Like many people, I had never heard the story of Cheryl Strayed and her best-selling book “Wild” before it was turned into a movie staring Reese Witherspoon. Before I went to see the film version of “Wild” I made sure to do my research.
It’s about a young woman, Strayed, who lost her mother to cancer at 22, then got addicted to heroin, started having sex with everyone, and went through a nasty divorce. To punish herself and think about what her next step in life would be Strayed went on a 1000 mile journey on the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. By the end she had discovered herself and went on to settle on the West Coast and become a writer.
Or at least that’s what I think the story was about. Let’s start with the big negative here. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed “Wild” a lot and I thought it was an award-worthy performance by Witherspoon, but there was a lot left unsaid in the film. I assume if I had read the book I would have gotten all of the details and wouldn’t have had this complaint in the theater because I could fill in the blanks on my own. If you want to see this film make sure to look up Strayed and the plot before you go. Do some research. Read more blogs and reviews. Or else you will be lost.
For example, in the film Strayed tells her friend that she is pregnant and then she has an upset bout of rage while she shovels in a Minnesota snowstorm. But that’s the only time we hear about this baby. We never learn what comes of the pregnancy but we can assume that Strayed never had the baby because she is hiking the PCT. On further research I found that Strayed had an abortion which I assumed while I was watching the film but still, some people aren’t that observant when they watch movies.
Another problem with “Wild” is that the timeline is hazy. I think I understood that after Strayed’s mom died she was married soon after and then started her reckless behavior. But I felt myself asking a million questions through every flashback scene. How long have her and her husband been divorced? Because they still seem to be talking. And did she suddenly just kick the heroin habit? Because it seems like she just one day stopped and then decided to go on this hike.
Witherspoon does make up for the confusing timeline, though. She’s great as Strayed during the flashbacks and real time. She gets dirty and exhausted as she pretends to hike the PCT and we get a genuine sense of struggle with emotions during the flashback scenes to her drug use and sex life. Witherspoon proves that the Oscar race for Best Actress is going to be anyone’s game and she definitely came to play.
The other piece of advice that I always like to give around Award Season is that this type of movie is not for the faint of heart. Does nudity and drug use overshadow a beautiful story for you? Then this movie probably isn’t for you. Don’t want to watch Reese Witherspoon in the dirt and rain? Then this movie isn’t for you. Do you not want to feel uncomfortable when you go to the movies? Then this movie definitely isn’t for you.
But for those of you wild enough to take a chance, then this film is a good choice. It makes you think and tells one woman’s incredible story. And that’s what Award Season is all about.