Wild is probably the most recent film release on the retro release list at the time of writing. My brother managed to see this film long before me, and constantly pestered me to watch it. Eventually I got a DVD copy, and now I can review it.
Wild stars Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern and Thomas Sadoski with Jean-Marc Vallee directing. Wild follows the real life story of Cheryl Strayed (Witherspoon) as she treks the 1100 mile long Pacific Crest Trail to heal herself from earlier traumatic experiences.
Wild looks breathtaking. I feel like I’ve been saying that for most films that I watch recently, but every time it’s true, and Wild is no different. With over 1000 miles of the west coast of America being our backdrop, Wild takes us through deserts, dense forests and snowy mountains, and all of it is mesmerising. The scenery almost makes me want to start trekking, just so I can see for myself the stunning landscapes that are presented to us.
The acting done by all is top notch. Reese Witherspoon is able to convey so much just through scenes if her walking in the environments, her movements tell us all we need to know. Her scream that starts the film tells us that what we are about to watch is going to be mad, and soon enough Wild is off to a flying start. We say hello once again to Laura Dern after her three films in the David Lynch Collection, and here in Wild she is still superb. It is a shame that neither of the women managed to win any awards for their acting, despite being nominated several times.
Be warned though, Wild pushes it’s 15 certification like no other film I’ve seen. I feel the censors must be getting more relaxed about the level of material that gets into films nowadays, because Wild is full of the stuff that would have garnered an 18 a while back. Graphic sex, constant swear words and drug taking are wall-to-wall here, meaning this is not one for the younger audience. Even some of topics of conversation and actions will put off some viewers, with domestic abuse, abortions and childhood trauma all being explored within the film. There is even some body horror thrown in where Cheryl checks her feet to see her toenails coming off, a scene that made me squirm in my seat. You will have to brace yourself for all of these if you want to watch Wild.
The story switches between Strayed trekking through the wild and back to her childhood and early adult life, where we get to see the scenes that make her go on the journey of self-healing. From the scenes conjured up by the film, it’s a life of fleeting joy and harrowing sadness and helplessness, with many standout moments that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the film. It’s a film that shows the worst possible scenarios that a human can experience playing out over and over again, before pulling you back to the trekking story before it loses you in its own sadness and despair. It’s dark and mature and doesn’t pull any punches in the story that it ultimately wants to tell.
Even though the run time scrapes at the two hour mark, it never feels bloated or feels like it’s had stuff removed. Every scene has been carefully thought out, adding new bits of information about Strayed or her past. This means the film works as a giant jigsaw, with every scene adding up to greater picture. If even one scene were cut we would lose a valuable bit of information about a character or a scene, meaning the film wouldn’t reach the heights that it does.
In conclusion, Wild is not for the faint of heart. The content will drive away a fair few, but for those that can stomach it, you will find one of the greatest films of 2015.
Score: 10/10 Brilliant, beautiful and brutal, not one to be missed.
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