Wild – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

wildWild – 3.5/5 – There are plenty of things I like about films as a whole, but there is a very specific genre of films I enjoy more than most.  This would be the genre commonly known as ‘indie flicks’.  Nowadays, this has become a broaden description of filming because of the industry, but the most endearing and definitely some of the best films happen in this genre.  Good or bad, I enjoy watching films that defined as Indie Flicks.  So when it came to this Indie styled film; I definitely had a kindred eye for what it was telling.  With having a chance to experiencing this film at an early screening, I can definitely say this is a ‘true story’ is both slow and endearing.  Wild is a film about the utter most importance of finding what it means to be human and it does a great job in providing worth and inspiration for all.

Premise: A tale of truth; following a woman’s journey along a 1100 solo hike to find the reason to live and prove worth again.

At the heart of this film is the characterization of the lead; Cheryl Strayed.  She is played by famed actress Reese Witherspoon.  She has done plenty of great films in the past, but I believe this is her best work to date; even better than her Oscar winning role in Walk the Line.  This is a bold statement to make, but this film is all about her and her journey on this hike on a treacherous trail on the West Coast.  In putting all the focus on this one character; this film is moved and focused on how she interacts with others, and obviously how she finds true purpose in herself.  Seeing that conflict of purpose vs. struggle is an obvious cliché, but Witherspoon does a great job in grounding the obvious and making it heartfelt.  It is a slow burn, but when you get a grip on ‘why’ she is doing this, you see all the purpose of wanting to push pass all the voices of failure/turning back and succeed in finding that reason for living again.  The emotional structure of this character is subtle, and with a lacking of dialogue it is most important on how the emotions are brought out through facial expression and interaction with nature (sense majority of the film takes place away from society).  Witherspoon does a marvelous job in creating that emotion through the delicacy of her outward influences, making you feel as if you’re the one on this journey.  When it comes to the rest of the supporting cast, I’m not going to waste time in describing how majority are used in the film.  If you wish to see who was in the supporting cast, you can check out the IMDB page.   The two that I will describe are Laura Dern as Bobbi (Cheryl’s mother) and Thomas Sadoski as Paul (ex- husband).  These two do a decent job in providing ‘background service’ for Cheryl’s story, but don’t do much to stand out as real people.  They are pretty cliché within their respective roles, but don’t hinder the lead performance or ‘journey’ aspect of the film.

The direction of this film focuses on a typical bio-pic that is infused with ‘character piece’ themes.  Within those themes, we are also threaded in parallel with the theme of a ‘life journey’.  All of this is pretty cliché and something you find in most indie flicks.  To trump this weight of standard elements, the film takes an approach to focus on the power of Witherspoon’s acting and the hiking tale itself.  Within the first act; you really don’t get a lot of motivation or endearing moments to hold on to.  You get introduced to the character of Cheryl Strayed and the start of her journey on this trail.  From here, you are witness to the ‘mishaps’ of a first timer on a hiking trail.  This is a very ‘slow burn’ kind of approach, but one that becomes necessary in what starts to unravel.  The film takes a turn for the better when Cheryl comes in contact with a man at her first ‘stopping point’ of the hike.  This is when the story elements begin to open up the ‘why’ and ‘what’ for Cheryl, and you start to get infused with the ‘life journey’ themes.  This is when the film begins to combine the strengths within the tale; its emotional overtones with the journey’s raw humanistic appeal.  You garner a good grip of Cheryl and the reasons to believe in her; knowing why she keeps pushing forward regardless of everyone telling her it is ok to turn back or quit the hike.  This is when the film moves into its second act, and does the back and forth between Cheryl’s present journey against her past ‘flashback’ error-filled ways.  This back and forth between timelines creates a great layer of consequence vs. perspective.  We start to see Cheryl become humbled with her past while also struggling to push forward on this Pacific trail.  That aura of trying, finding and believing in something regardless of faults exudes true emotional perspective; showing strength through interactions with people or nature; especially the ‘silent’ moments of the film.  These silent moments can be defined as being ‘expositional’.  The irony in this is you feel the expression even if no one is explaining the scene.  This is what makes the film become something more; how it stands out on an individual scale but expresses its idea as an overall ‘life changing’ tale.  That infusion makes the third act, climax and epilogue all more appealing.  Once you get to the final part; it is a ‘full circle’ kind of epiphany for the audience as much as it is for Cheryl.  The ‘coming to terms’ climax will come off typical, but the raw ambiguity you see in the ‘choices’ she has made have had a fateful line, no matter if it is in her past or her inevitable future.  This leads into a strong ‘capture the moment’ epilogue; one that will have a different definition to each person that watches the film.  Once you experience it, you’ll feel as if you have gone on this journey, learning about yourself as much as Cheryl has within this tale.

The visuals are some of the most awe inspiring scenes I have seen in a film on a small scale.  The scope of the tale is colored by the vast-open landscapes that are seen throughout the film.  No matter if she is in the desert, forest, fields or on snow covered mountains, you feel the journey through the vividness of the world on this Pacific Trail.  The diversity helps create ‘moods’ throughout, helping draw you in through a perspective of ‘feeling’ through your eyes.  The sweeping shots are magical, and the quick close-ups help level out the magic with refinement.  The score is left to natural sounds; helping add to the ‘true story’ appeal.

Wild is a film that presents a typical kind of theme; but does enough to create something endearing, purposeful and overall enjoyable.  Reese Witherspoon carries this film with her amazing performance, while infusing a ‘life story’ that is both endearing and honest.  If you’re a fan of her, indie flicks or enjoy a good ‘journey’ film you should definitely check this out.  You will not be disappointed.

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