Movie Review: Wild

wildWild (2014)
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Main role played by
Reese Witherspoon
Written by
Cheryl Strayed and Nick Hornby
Genre:
Drama
Length:
115 minutes
Watched on: January 6th 2016
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Letterboxd

Synopsis: A woman with a tragic past decides to start her new life by hiking for one thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail.

review

I have been wanting to watch Wild ever since it was released. It seemed like such an inspirational movie. When I found out it was based on a novel, a memoir, I was even more thrilled. Obviously, being a book lover, I went ahead and bought the book. I was determined to read it before I watched the movie. Until it dawned on me that it is already 2016, and I haven’t gotten around to reading the book yet. So I decided to just go ahead and watch the movie. I could always read the book later, no? 

I have to start by saying that I love Reese Witherspoon. I think she’s an incredible actress, and am always happy to see her act. That got me even more excited to watch this. Without bias, I do believe that she did an incredible job. The way she portrayed Cheryl Strayed was fascinating, and felt very real. Because this is a non-fiction story, I was afraid it would seem to unrealistic when filmed. But it wasn’t. The emotions were raw, the decisions not always sound. Yet I understood, in a way.

This movie, and of course the book, is honest. That’s the first word that comes to mind: honest. The worst of Cheryl’s decisions and situations aren’t hidden, nor are they sugarcoated. When she starts hiking the trail, her life is a mess. Because I’m a very privileged person, I can’t fully comprehend how a person can let their life become such a horrifying mess. She has become a drug addict, a cheater and many more things I can’t state without spoiling the story. I know what preceded all of those bad decisions. But still… Anyway, when she starts hiking her life is at an all-time low. It can’t really get any worse. So why not hike 1000 miles, right? 

Like I said, I do believe that this is a good movie. Whether or not it is a good adaptation, I can’t say as I haven’t read the book. But it is a well done movie. I felt compassion, I was sad, I was scared for Cheryl’s life at certain points and I was proud. During this whole movie, I was on a roller coaster of emotions, as I am sure Cheryl must have been in reality. 

At first, I was unsure how this adaptation would work. The whole story is a woman hiking on her own. Wouldn’t that become boring? How would they weave in her backstory? While I was a bit bored at a certain point in the middle, I found this movie to be interesting and gripping overall. I’m not even sure I was bored in the middle… It could’ve been exhaustion, as I watched this quite late in the evening. But they weaved in Cheryl’s backstory through memories while she hikes, and my favorite part: through sounds. When she is hiking, you could start to hear a person talking, or singing. That would then slowly fade into a memory. It was really well done. Almost a month later, and the one thing I remember most clearly about this movie is the interweaving of sound.

After I have said all these good things about Wild, you might start wondering: Jolien, why did you only give it 3.5 stars if you liked it so much? While I love the overall story and how it was portrayed, I did have some issues with it. 

Firstly, I was left a bit disappointed at the end. I don’t know why, but I expected just a bit more from this movie. Maybe because it was so hyped up in my mind? I’m not sure why. Secondly, I was left with quite a few questions at the end. I know that this is only a memoir of part of Cheryl’s life, and that she is still living out the rest. Yet I would have at least liked SOME answers on what happened after she hiked the PCT. And lastly, like I said, I was a bit bored around the middle part. 


Overall, this is definitely a movie I’d recommend. It made me sit through this roller coaster of Cheryl’s life and emotions, and I’m appreciative of it. It gives a new perspective on how anyone can change their lives. No matter how bad it has become for you. No matter what has happened. You have the power to change it. We just need to be brave and persistent. As for the portrayal of the story, I loved it. The scenery was beautiful, and the way her memories were woven into the story was fascinating. I just wish I could’ve gotten some answers at the end. 

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8 thoughts on “Movie Review: Wild

  1. I thought it would get boring too! But I was so engrossed and into it. As someone with my life mostly together that sort of trip would be too scary for me, but I loved watching it. And I agree with you about how real it was. She wasn’t instantly great at it, she had a lot of trips and falls along the way. The ending was a bit anti-climactic, but that’s indie films for you?

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  2. I’ve been thinking about seeing this — thanks for the review! I didn’t love the book, so I’ve hesitated about seeing the movie. It sounds like one of my complaints about the book would apply to the movie — what happened after she finished hiking? I would have liked more follow-up.

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  3. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve been meaning to for ages! I had very high expectations of the movie, though, so I’m glad you brought them down a bit. ^_^

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  4. Great review! I really enjoyed the film too, but you should definitely read the book – it’s excellent! It was probably my favourite read of 2015. I know what you mean about the film losing its way and getting a bit boring in the middle – luckily the book isn’t like that, plus there’s a lot more interaction with the various people she meets along the way, which keeps things entertaining. I really recommend it!

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