Wednesday, September 17, 2014
TIFF 14 Film Review - Wild
Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) is at a breaking point at the opening of the film. She's having issues with her feet, her shoes, her pack, her surroundings and is generally not pleased that she has committed herself to a 1,100 mile walk along the Pacific Crest Trail. We soon learn thought a series of flashbacks why Cheryl is out in the wilderness. She has made some very bad choices in her personal life and recently suffered a tragedy in her immediate family that has lead her out on the road to cleanse and refresh.
Wild is Director Jean - Marc Vallee follow up to last years critical acclaimed Dallas Buyers Club. Vallee presents a unique version of the traveler alone motif. In many of these stories the main character is isolated and has very little interaction with others. Vallee film instead features many encounters with other travellers plus rich flashbacks to both the good and bad parts of Cheryl's life before she hit the trail.
Screenwriter Nick Hornby has many natural hiking details in the story thanks to the account Cheryl Strayed's book. A key one is the deep red bruising on Cheryl's shoulders and waist where the metal from the pack digs in to her body. It's a feature of the production that rings true and might have been missed if the source material was not authentic.
Cinematographer Yves Belanger who also worked with Valle on Dallas Buyers Club has a rich wide pallet to fill. The three month walk covers all types of weather from debilitating heat to snow in the mountains. Belanger captures several spectacular sunsets, gives the viewer a scene of the vastness of the land and really hones in on the polity experience for being along at night in such an open landscape.
One of the best continuity devices in the piece is Cheryl's notation in the trail book at the start of each section of the trail. She opens the wooden box holding the book, writes in a famous quote signed by Cheryl Strayed and the author. When she meets up with other travellers during her hike she is known for tow things. The size of her pack which fellow travellers have dubbed monster and her trail book quotes.
Reese Witherspoon is exceptional in the lead role. She embraces every aspect of the adventure. The physical nature of the hike, grittiness of going days upon end without running water. Unexpected challenges of enduring a series of cold meals due to having the wrong stove oil or arriving at the only water tank for miles in the middle of a scorching day finding it empty but being able to bounce back to clean a suspect alternate water source with the aid of a purifying kit.
Wild is a very entertaing story of a person who at a very low point in her life sets an incredible goal and sees it through. Cheryl had many reasons when she could or might have quit but she pushed on. A very important sequence occurs when she makes it to the first meeting spot. The sage veteran of the camp goes through all the items in her pack and removes what is not needed or that which she will never use. A perfect metaphor for what Cheryl needs to doe with several elements in her life.
*** 1/2 Out of 4.
Wild | Jean Marc Vallee | U.S.A. | 2014| 115 Minutes.
Tags: Pacific Crest Trail, Divorce, Infidelity, Heroin, REI Boots, Snapple, Poet Quotes.