Wild

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Adam Driver

Certificate: 15

Run Time: 115 mins

Synopsis: After a series of unfortunate events Cheryl Strayed (Witherspoon), a recovering drug addict, sets out on a 1100 mile trek by foot across America’s Pacific Crest Trail.

This time last year we were all mesmerised by Jean-Marc Vallee’s brilliant DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, a film that saw both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto bag an Oscar. Now just twelve months later Vallee has produced another stunning piece of cinema that is garnering a lot of award season chatter.

Once more the story is a true life tale, this time around we have Reese Witherspoon starring as Cheryl Strayed, a young woman who, through determination to turn her life around, makes it her mission to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail. For those not in the know the Pacific Crest Trail is really long (over 1000 miles).

The film is all about Reese Witherspoon and her performance. She is supported by a wonderful cast; Laura Dern deserves a special mention as Bobbi, Cheryl’s spirit animal and mother, but the rest of the players are definitely more than background colour. WILD is one of the rare projects that gives Witherspoon a chance to showcase her full range. After winning the world over in LEGALLY BLONDE, Witherspoon more often than not plays on the lighter, brighter side of film. She did of course win an Academy Award for her turn as Joan Cash in WALK THE LINE, but with WILD she gets the chance to shoulder the whole film. Her grittier side, that we’ve seldom seen since early outings such as FREEWAY, finally gets an outing. That being said, her character of Cheryl isn’t your stereotypical addict, the film perfectly highlighting that anyone can fall from grace and onto hard times. Played by many others, the character who as well as being an addict is a serial philanderer, and to some degree a spoilt brat, could come across as very unlikable. Thanks to Witherspoon and her angelic charm she effortlessly manages to have the audience rooting for Cheryl from the outset.

Award season films tend to have a reputation for being rather depressing and dark, and whilst it has some really horrendous moments, WILD has a surprising amount of genuine humour hidden amongst the trekking and tears. However, being a film based around an individual in the wilderness, most of the story is told through flashbacks, a device that is sadly used a couple of times too many.

Fans of Sean Penn’s INTO THE WILD, which starred Emile Hirsch as Chris, will of course notice the similarities and that WILD really is a female-led version; though thankfully with a more uplifting ending.

[usr=4] WILD is released across the UK from 16th January.