By Suzy Stocking – Collegiate Staff
Wild is based on the life story of Cheryl Strayed, portrayed by Reese Witherspoon, who, following the death of her mother and a failed marriage, hiked 1,100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail alone with no experience whatsoever. Her destructive behavior leads her to the Pacific Crest Trail and she makes a promise, saying, “I’m going to walk myself back to the woman my mother raised.”
The movie flashes back and forth from her journey on the trail to past experiences that led her to where she was and who she had become.
Wild takes the audience on a journey of self-discovery. It seems that everyone who watches this film can find a piece of themselves within Strayed’s flawed but charmingly real personality.
Her mistakes bring her to her decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, and while her journey on the trail reveals the audience more about her character, it’s the flashbacks that really make her story come alive.
In these flashbacks the audience is introduced to Strayed’s mom Bobbi, portrayed by Laura Dern. It’s here that we find out how important Cheryl’s mother was to her, and how drastically her mother’s death affected her life. While on her hike, many different things cause Cheryl to think about her mother and the struggles she faced to try to make her and her brother’s lives as good as they could be while she was struggling.
The film is directed by Jean-Marc Valée, who is best known for directing “Dallas Buyers Club.” Valée takes a visual approach, telling the story not only through flashbacks, but with gorgeous scenery, depicting both the harshness and the beauty of the Pacific Crest Trail.
I think “Wild” resonates particularly well with college students who may relate to Witherspoon’s character. While Strayed’s biggest obstacles in the story involve getting over her mother’s death, drug abuse, and infidelity, which everyone may not relate to, many of us can recognize the same feelings of seeming lost in the world. It’s refreshing to see the character’s journey of redemption and reclamation.
Witherspoon earned an Oscar nomination for Best Female Lead, and rightfully so. She embodies the spirit of a lost soul, and her raw emotion is powerful and inspiring. Dern is also nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
I would not be surprised if Reese Witherspoon takes home the Oscar, as I think this performance outdoes her Oscar-winning “Walk the Line” portrayal of June Carter. I highly recommend this movie, and give it a nine out of ten.