<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Jean-Marc Vellee. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Thomas Sadoski, Laura Dern, W Earl Brown, Kevin Rankin, Gaby Hoffman
All the flashbacks in this film make you wonder if they wouldn’t have made a better story than this unendingly tedious walk of realisation that the protagonist has to go through.
Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, a deeply upset woman who has been through the pain of losing her mother to cancer, her husband because of her own tawdry dalliances and most of her money. She decides to go on a quest of 1100 miles through the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to find herself! Pretty clichéd.
As she does so with her heavy backpack and bleeding feet, she talks to herself, has flashbacks about her mother Bobbi (Laura Dern) who dies of cancer as well as her marriage which spiralled out of control into an abyss of cheating and drug-taking. Sometimes she has flashback within the flashbacks. In between all this Sheryl stops off at rest stations along the PCT – a trail, which I’m told, is quite picturesque but the cinematographer here has failed to capture it – meeting people who go out of their way to help her.
Cheryl Strayed has written a book on which this film is based (of course!). The film tries hard to make her journey look extremely painful as well as profound. At certain places on the trail she thinks a fox is with her, almost like a metaphorical angel but it never really does anything for her. There are moments when she talks to herself and recites poetry or some philosophy which seem awfully contrived. The flashbacks of her mother Bobbi are the only points where some emotion is palpable but after a while these too get surreal.
The relationship between her and her husband Paul is explored through occasional phone conversations she has with him along her journey as well as letters he writes to her. But the true depth of their bond never materialises.
At the end of Wild we’re left incomplete, as if our journey has been worthless with no emotion or gratification for our effort in sitting through the film.