Movie Review: Wild

Though I unfortunately don't have a review of Wild up on my book blog, I read it in May 2013 as the first book chosen by my book club. I don't read much nonfiction, but I do sometimes like autobiographies, and Cheryl Strayed's story was an unusual one that stayed with me: she chooses to walk the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to try and straighten up her life, and get rid of some of the demons plaguing her. I was excited, then, to hear that the book was being made into a movie, with Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl, and the film adaptation did not disappoint.

Cheryl (Witherspoon) has gone through a lot of hardship recently, so she decides to walk the 600-plus-mile PCT even though she doesn't have much hiking experience. Her childhood and early 20s is shown in flashbacks; she loved her mother, Bobbi (Laura Dern), who recently passed away from cancer, and she wasn't as close with her brother, Lief (Keene McRae) as she would have liked to have been. Cheryl meets a lot of interesting people on the trail, and although she at first struggles with the journey, both physically and mentally, she perseveres on, and aims to finish the trail within three months or so.

Witherspoon does a great job here as Cheryl Strayed. At the screening I attended, there was a short clip with her, Laura Dern, and the real Cheryl, introducing the film, which was also interesting to see - make sure to stay through the credits, too, to see pictures of the real Cheryl hiking the PCT. Similar to the book, Cheryl's past is told in flashbacks, which I enjoyed; it almost reminded me of White Oleander, in a way, although not as dark. At age 38, Witherspoon is still able to pull off characters in her early 20's, too, although you won't find a perky Elle Woods-like personality in this movie at all.

Yes, see this film. It's very similar to The Way, with Martin Sheen, which I reviewed back in 2010, except definitely more raw - at the beginning of the movie, we see Witherspoon slowly, painfully, strip off her hiking shoes, and remove the toenail on her big toe which had gone completely red from blood. If you end up seeing and liking the movie, I highly recommend the book, as well; the movie seemed a little bit like a "Cliffs Notes" version of it (a shortened version), but was still very good. I hope that Witherspoon and maybe Dern get some nominations for their roles here, as well, although we will have to wait until awards season to find out.

Wild is in theaters today, December 12th, and is rated R with a runtime of 115 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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