Over the weekend I decided to watch the 2014 film Wild starring Reese Witherspoon and directed by Jean- Marc Vallee. The film Wild illustrates Cheryl Strayed's journey to spiritual fulfillment and a better self. Cheryl Strayed decided to take an untraditional route to recovery by hiking the 1,000 miles Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) alone. The trail runs through California, Oregon, and Washington almost touching the Canadian border (according to the film). In awe, the hike is extremely difficult and dangerous due to the fluctuating altitudes, weather, and exposure to wildlife and overall isolation. Strayed's memoir was almost entirely made to be a great film, and a great film is exactly what it was!
Reese Witherspoon's performance had an exceptional performance as Strayed. She presented the torments and overall emotional damage and perseverance Strayed carried throughout her hike. I appreciated that Valle incorporated the aspect of femininity in the film. Noting that the PCT predominately was male dominated and the fact that Strayed not only hiked it alone but completed it was phenomenal and definitely worth mentioning. In the film Witherspoon starts off with an enormous back pack filled with a lot of things that she expects she’ll need but really doesn’t. That moment, although a bit comical, is actually a sign showing that Strayed was prepared to hike the PCT. Gradually over time she begins to learn how to keep herself going, and along the way make the back pack lighter by getting rid of the unnecessary stuff.
The back pack is very much a symbol of the spiritual and mental weight that Strayed carried around from so many years after the death of her mother, her ill childhood, heroine addiction, and over all damaging path as an adult. As she hikes through the PCT she mentally is dealing with all her demons and overcoming them in an edgy way. That is represented by her slowly lightening the weight of her backpack throughout the hike.
I want to compliment the way the director Vallee decided to go about representing Strayed’s demons. He replicated the how when someone is alone they are often times flooded with unwanted thoughts—like when we lay down to sleep after a long day we often think about the bad points or something that bothered us days ago. Vallee represents this by using flashbacks in the film, almost as if every time Strayed overcomes or approaches a new demon she has a flashback on a particular incident. At times it was her mothers death from cancer, or her mothers joyful, uplifting attitude while singing in the kitchen. Other times it was her husband’s disappointment in her addiction and inability to commit to solely him. I must say that there are a lot of strong images of addiction and promiscuity in the film but that is what makes it raw and uncut—relatable to the audience.
I was often times very emotional throughout the film, and completely consumed by it. The film Wild runs a bit under 2 hours total but is definitely a great watch. I recommend it to you all.
Here's the Trailer: