Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Wild (2014)

I was interested in seeing Wild when it was at theatres, but I didn't get around to it and then forgot about the film, and the book on which it was based, until it became a fairly significant plot element in the recent Gilmore Girls reboot.  Put me down as someone who thought said reboot was rather uneven and mildly disappointing, on the whole, by the by, but it did in any case prompt me to pick up a copy of the film at last.

When her beloved mother dies suddenly, at the young age of 46, Cheryl Strayed goes rather off the rails: heroin abuse, anonymous sex, and so on.  She destroys her marriage and alienates many of her friends.  Finally, having hit her personal nadir, she decides to rebuild herself into "the woman [her] mother raised" by walking the Pacific Crest Trail.  Well, the 1,100 miles stretch from the Mojave Desert to the southern border of Washington state, at least.

Strayed plans to do this alone, and with no prior hiking experience, so as you might imagine she doesn't exactly get off to a flying start.  She struggles to put up her tent, has the wrong fuel for her camp stove, and so on.  Slowly, however - often with the help of strangers - she begins to adjust to the task at hand.

Reese Witherspoon carries this film: she's often the only person on screen for large amounts of time.  It's a task as weighty as the pack she carries in the movie, and she handles it well, though I do think she's left a little short-changed by the script.  I found the personally transformative nature of the journey was not communicated as well as the hardship of the physical task was, and the ending of the film felt a bit sudden.  I suspect the book may handle these elements better, since it will be able to give us a much more direct view of what Strayed was thinking and feeling.

On the plus side for the movie though, it does strongly communicate some of the experiences of women in the world, explicitly told from the perspective of one of those women.  That's a disappointingly rare thing, so thumbs up for seeing it here.

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