Why the new movie “Wild” is One Meta “Wild” Ride

Self-discovery and one life’s journey can go in any which direction. Thankfully with skilled direction, nuanced writing and heartfelt acting, the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed best-selling autobiography doesn’t seem to veer too far off track by not turning it into a maudlin experience.

Reese Witherspoon gets down and dirty in the adaptation of the best-seller "Wild."

Reese Witherspoon gets down and dirty in the adaptation of the best-seller “Wild.”

Having not read Cheryl Strayed‘s best-selling book “Wild,” I was impressed how the movie made hiking actually seem interesting and even enthralling thanks to the remarkable real-life story of author Cheryl Strayed’s life story following the death of her mother Bobbi.

First off, my expectations were very high for this one. I remember when the book first came out with all of these glowing reviews of a simple white book with a single brown hiking boot on the cover. With descriptions of how Strayed was inspired to become a better person through hiking on her own the Pacific Coast Trail out west following the unexpected death of her mother. Then I find out that it’s been optioned for a movie by none other than Academy Award® winning actress Reese Witherspoon. I thought there is no way they can screw this up as the book’s story line of heartache and redemption clearly lends itself to be perfectly showcased on film.

I have to admit it the entire team behind Wild pulled Strayed’s complex and sentimental story off with great aplomb! I just hope more people go out and see it. After a quick spurt of a release Wild is currently in limited release playing a few theaters here and there. After receiving two major Academy Award® nominations for Best Actress and Supporting Actress, I can only hope that a re-release or major push on Blu-ray/DVD is warranted, because this story has the potential to be considered one’s exploration of life’s journey a biopic for the ages. I’m that serious.

Here’s How Reese (or Cheryl) Climbed Every Mountain

“Wild” is the real-life story of author Cheryl Strayed’s journey to find herself, as she looks back on her often troubled upbringing from childhood all they way to adulthood, and reflects on how her mother’s death so deeply affected her life thereafter. Her decisions and actions affect everyone around her from her brother to her husband, no one is spared. After seemingly having her life in order, Strayed is dealt with the worst possible news, her rock and support system, otherwise known as her mother Bobbi, brilliantly played by Laura Dern, is suddenly diagnosed with bone cancer and is told she has only months to live. Even that’s not long enough, as Cheryl’s mother Bobbi abruptly dies after diagnosis and Strayed’s world is thrown into chaos, much of it self-inflicted.

Laura Dern who plays Cheryl's mother Bobbi won a much deserved Oscar nomination as well.

Laura Dern who plays Cheryl’s mother Bobbi won a much deserved Oscar nomination as well.

Reese is a angelic beauty and of course every guy wants to sleep with Cheryl (not matter how unkept she clearly is) But is this reality?

Despite acting like a complete mess following the death of her mother, Cheryl manages to get it on with every guy she meets. This despite still being married to her loyal husband Paul (nicely played by Thomas Sadoski), Cheryl becomes engrossed heavily into alcohol, drugs, and extra martial affairs, not knowing where her life is headed. It takes her husband Paul to physically save her after one too many illicit experiences that leads Cheryl close to her own death.

She also lucks out like no other! The movie made me think that I should sit down and read Cheryl’s book because her journey was filled with so many twists and turns both physical and emotional, which is just enough to make this movie adaptation fly by, that you can’t believe what a remarkable life she has lead already.

Credit screenwriter (and successful novelist himself) Nick Hornsby for telling what could have been a linear and borderline lifeless story into a brilliant and nonlinear journey that travels through a human being’s troubled soul. Trust me, this journey will all make sense in the end. In addition to director Jean-Marc Vallee‘s decision to de-glamorize Miss Witherspoon as a person or the not really showcase the scenic locales she is visiting with long sweeping vista shots is a right one. This is a story told with heart and humanity.

Makes me think it helps to be the producer of the movie you star in, doesn’t it? You get to handle all of the decisions of what you want to focus on.

What Would You Do In Cheryl’s Boots?

I certainly would never hike my way through the dessert and mountains if i had a tragedy before me. It seems like such a drastic decision and who knows if you are seriously trained to actually live on your own in the great outdoors? Not to mention you have to walk until your body aches.

Cheryl Strayed’s life is so tumultuous and she becomes so impetuous that she has that “a-ha moment” when she and her friend Aimee (Gaby Hoffman) have to shovel snow in one scene. Cheryl with her life an impossible mess, sees a hiking book on the Pacific Crest Trail. Then all of a sudden it dawns on her: she has to hike in order to become to woman that her mother wanted her to become! That singular line that Witherspoon says in the movie, stood out to me. I thought okay…this moment comes across as a wee bit contrived, but hey if this a plot point that sets us out on our journey, then who am I to question how she got there?

Cheryl explaining her legal last name change to “Strayed” in a flashback (get it she Strayed?) is another off the mark moment that only makes sense when you get to the end and think back on what you just saw. Speaking of the end, it just ends abruptly, which is my only big problem with the movie. No post script to acknowledgment of journey completed, just Reese looking into the rainy Oregon sky and the film fades to a white light so to speak.

As you can see author of "Wild," Cheryl Strayed and the movie's producer/ lead actress Reese Witherspoon look so much alike!

As you can see author of “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed and the movie’s producer/ lead actress Reese Witherspoon look so much alike!

It may look like its a Reeseisance but where is Reese’s career headed now?

She managed to produce a potential Best Picture nominee and box office smash in Gone Girl, now she’s starring in a movie that did bag her a second nomination for acting. I can now see why David Fincher suggested someone else namely Rosemund Pike instead of herself in the role of Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, she’s a wickedly great find who can pull off cold and calculating. Whereas Reese well she’s still just as cute as she was as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. It’s that perky personality and smaller stature I think will be a hindrance for Reese in finding a project as great as Wild was.

But now that she is producing more movies she is clearly taking control of her career and she is striving to pick strong projects that will enhance her skills as a performer. Think about it, she could be doing more rom-com projects and no one would be the wiser that her career is quite frankly stuck in neutral. But she’s choosing not to, she’s choosing to wipe off the makeup and give her fans and the movie going public energetic thought-provoking mature characters. I’m glad she’s clearly reading best-selling books, someone has to and why not her? The next book that comes along that features a strong willed woman I will picture Reese Witherspoon in the role and think it’s because of this role of Cheryl Strayed in Wild that I now think she can stretch herself. For fans of movies, we should all be thankful that someone is taking the time to be thoughtful about her career.

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