Full disclosure, I did not want to see Wild. The trailer made it seem miserable. Who wanted to sit through almost two hours of watching someone walk the PCT beating themselves up for their past sins. First I have enough issues of my own, second I hike enough to know that the PCT is not for beginners, and third I go to the movies to escape not to watch someone wallow while they suffer.
Then I kept seeing review after review of Witherspoon's performace, yada yada yada. OK, I had seen everything else that was out (that I could tolerate), so I went. The critics were right. Reese Whitherspoon is brilliant in her role as Cheryl Strayed, the divorced wife, former druggy, who has lost her way. Once her mother (Laura Dern) died, Cheryl lost what was the anchor of her life. And her world unraveled.
For some reason she decided, with no hiking experience (that we know of), to take off alone and hike the entire Pacific Coast Trail which runs 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. She was outfitted, albeit too well. When I saw her pack I just groaned. Having hiked (only a few times) with a pack of gear I knew she was way out of her league. Thankfully fellow hikers along the way helped her learn what was important and what was not - in more than just gear.
As we hike with Cheryl, we learn of her life through flash backs. As one would expect, she gains strength and confidence as she puts miles behind her on the trail. And it seems with each mile she sheds a little more baggage and starts seeing her way.
My fear was the film would be intense and slogging, but it was not. And, thank goodness the script writers spared us close calls with death, frost bite, attacks by wild animals, etc. The film kept on course, just as Cheryl kept heading north. I am now glad I saw the film.
I will be very disappointed if this does not garner Witherspoon an Academy nod, if not another Best Actress award. This truly shows her breadth of talent from her romantic comedy role in the successful Sweet Home Alabama to her Oscar winning performance in Walk The Line.
But, not to be overlooked is Laura Dern's performace as Cheryl's mother, who we see in flashbacks throughout the film. Her performance is excellent and deserves some attention.