Many years ago, I read Cheryl Strayed's memoir, Wild and it quickly became the book that I was recommending to all of my friends. I was so excited when I heard that a film adaptation was in the works and that Reese Witherspoon was cast as Strayed.
PLOT - When Cheryl Strayed's beloved mother dies quickly from a fast spreading cancer, Strayed becomes overwhelmed with grief. In her grief, she acts out. She cheats on her husband, having sex with countless men. She starts using heroin and pulls away from her friends and family. On the insistence of a friend, Strayed goes to a drugstore to buy a pregnancy test and while there, she sees a guide for the Pacific Crest Trail, a trail that spans from Mexico to the west coast of Canada. She mentions that she is unfit to be a mother ( pointing to a possible abortion) and the idea of this hike takes hold. Although she isn't an experienced hiker, Strayed decides to attempt the trail alone in hopes of finding her lost self along the way. The film bounces between flashbacks and her hike.
LIKE - It's been a very long time since I've read Strayed book, but if this wasn't exactly like her memoir, then it was close and more importantly, it was faithful to the spirit of her book. I don't remember the book making me cry, but I cried buckets in the movie theatre. Seriously, I cried an embarrassing amount! Reese Witherspoon is so, so good as Strayed. Wild is an emotional roller coaster and I can't think of a better actress to play the part. As someone who has experience a lot of death and grieving over the last few years, watching this movie was a cathartic experience. It was intense for me and I felt like my stomach was tied up in knots for the entire duration. Beyond the story, this film is visually stunning. I'm so glad that we caught it in theaters. The music, with its haunting versions of Simon and Garfunkel songs was perfect to set the tone of the film. Wild is just so beautifully and thoughtfully done, that I left feeling like I had experienced something special.
DISLIKE - As much as I loved Wild, there were a few things that I wish had been done differently. Occasionally, the number of days that had passed on the hike would flash on the screen. I wish that they had also include where she was on the hike. The place wasn't always clear. There is a CG Fox that frequently appears and it looks very fake. Having a fake fox when everything else was so realistic, was jarring. Lastly, the very end was abrupt. I wasn't quite ready for her to reach her destination and it felt anticlimactic.
RECOMMEND - Yes! Read the book first, but definitely see the film adaptation. Make sure to bring kleenex and sun glasses. Brace yourself for an emotional tsunami.