‘Wild’ Review Roundup: Reese Witherspoon Praised For Oscar-Worthy Performance; Movie Earns Raves
Wild stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed, a troubled young woman who decided to start her life over with a lengthy trek through the wilderness and ultimately immortalized her journal in a book that served as the basis for the film.
Cheryl, after losing her mother to cancer, goes on a bender that sees her using heroin and falling into bed with a number of men who aren’t her husband. After her marriage dissolves because of her self-destructive behavior, Cheryl decides it’s time to get her life back on track. Using her savings to purchase hiking gear, she sets off on a trip that forces her to flesh out her emotional tumult and test her true grit.
Reviewers have had few unkind words for Wild, which is being touted as an early favorite come awards seasons. While Strayed’s story on its own is a powerful one, it’s said that Witherspoon loses herself in the role and imbues the movie with real sentiment without veering into over sentimentalizing it.
“Reese Witherspoon is the angry, wounded soul of “Wild.” She commands the screen throughout her heroine’s 1,100-mile journey of self-discovery and self-repair, on foot and mostly alone, from the Mojave desert to Washington State along the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a sensational performance, by far the best one of her career. The hiker, Cheryl, carries only a huge pack on her back. Ms. Witherspoon carries the whole movie. And she does so with unflagging intensity and remarkable verve.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir “Wild” has become a swift, solidly built movie capturing most of its author’s most interesting baggage stuff — the weedy tangle of regrets, the reckless bumper-car behavior borne of grief — while offering a rather different experience of what Strayed called “radical aloneness.” […]Like the book, the film, photographed with lightweight digital cameras by cinematographer Yves Belanger, captures what it’s like to have lingering memories flooding your perception of the present.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
“The adaptation of Strayed’s bestselling 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is faithful to the book, a challenging task since so much of it hinges on her internal contemplation. Translating solitary musings, raw despondency and personal enlightenment into arresting visuals is a substantial feat and novelist/screenwriter Nick Hornby was the perfect choice to convert the fascinating book into a lively script. His collaboration with director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club) is emotionally resonant. Witherspoon is terrific — low-key and gritty as a woman who’s lost her way and seeks to find it alone. Her voice-over narration is evocative, sometimes heartbreaking.” – Claudia Puig, USA Today
“Fueled by the centrifugal force of Ms. Witherspoon’s dynamic, award-worthy centerpiece performance, it’s one of the year’s most galvanizing cinematic experiences. […] One of the strengths in Mr. Hornby’s uplifting screenplay is the way he juggles two parallel plot trajectories with equally astute focus and intensity, without a trace of sentimentality. In both past and present tenses, Ms. Strayed comes close to tragedy so many times that her final victory in Wild seems doubly profound.” – Rex Reed, New York Observer
Wild is currently in wide release.