Film review: Wild (4 out of 5)

Jean-Marc Vallée must be a highly sought-after director - in recent years everything he’s touched seems to have turned to gold.

Reese Witherspoon in Wild
Reese Witherspoon in Wild

Or rather turns into awards.

We all know Dallas Buyers Club proved a bumper success in 2013 and if you go back to The Young Victoria in 2009 that wasn’t bad either.

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And now we have Wild which is looking good for Reese Witherspoon as best actress when the gongs are handed out.

Reese Witherspoon in Wild

The movie is based on the popular book by Cheryl Strayed. Witherspoon plays Strayed who embarked on a 1,100-mile trek on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to the border with Washington State.

It was a journey of self-discovery after Strayed had coped very badly following the death of her mother, getting hooked on heroin, sleeping around and wrecking her marriage in a downward spiral of self loathing.

The marathon hike was an attempt to get away from routine and normality, giving a chance to re-assess her whole life.

It may sound a bit intense and navel-gazing and possibly would be if it weren’t for some tight direction and superb acting.

Witherspoon is a very believable character, screaming obscenities into the air as she struggles against intense heat and snow.

And Laura Dern deserves plenty of plaudits for her touching portrayal of Strayed’s mother Bobbi, a woman with so much life and a great philosophy.

Strayed’s past life is told in flashbacks as she walks the thousand-plus miles and it’s all slotted together really well.

The only niggling point for me is that every time she meets a man on the walk there’s a tension which briefly takes the film in a different direction.

However, that may just be because I’ve seen too many horror movies!

Overall, it’s a beautifully crafted film that doesn’t over-egg the message but certainly makes you think about how to live your life, even though you may face some desperate times.

Film details: Wild (15) 129mins

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol