DVD Review: Wild



wild-dvd-cover-03It is hard to feel sorry for an attractive, blonde woman with a nice but milquetoast husband whose life spirals out of control as a result of her own self-sabotage. But that’s exactly what the film “Wild,” based on the memoir of the same name by author Cheryl Strayed, wants you to do.

Reese Witherspoon stars as Cheryl, who decides to embark on a three-month, 1,000-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail after her husband divorces her when he finds out she shoots heroin and sleeps with a lot of other men in her spare time. We’d say that’s a pretty good reason to file papers.

A movie about sex, drugs and a very long, solo hike sounds like it should be captivating. In fact, it is kind of boring.

Cheryl’s story is told in two parts: through her hike, and through flashbacks of her adolescence and early adulthood. The focus is on the bond between Cheryl and her poor but loving, single mother played by Laura Dern. (By the time Cheryl gets to college, it is hard to suspend reality and accept that Dern, who is but nine years older than Witherspoon, is playing her mother.)

We see little Cheryl witness her mother’s beating at the hands of her father, and death from cancer. This is all very sad, but it didn’t make us feel sad at all, which in turn made us feel cold and unemotional.

After her death, Cheryl’s wild phase begins, and she self-destructs one man at a time. This gives director Jean-Marc Vallée (“Young Victoria,” “Dallas Buyers Club”) ample opportunity to focus on Witherspoon’s bare anatomy.

Cheryl faces off against a snake, a fox and some creepy hunters along her hike, but the journey doesn’t feel particularly dangerous, especially since she gets money and letters from her ex-husband at various checkpoints.

Witherspoon received an Oscar nod for her performance, and she achieved the difficult task of making Cheryl seem funny, even likable at times. The role is a nice departure from Witherspoon’s Southern belle, “golly-gee, y’all” persona and it would be nice to see her in another role like it.

The cinematography of the Pacific Crest Trail is enough to make you go out and buy a trail map, tent and some hiking boots. But Cheryl’s journey didn’t rouse any particular emotion within us, except for maybe contempt.

Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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