Wild ★★★½

Film #6
Task #13: A film about or featuring something that is on your bucket list! --> Her hike is quite a bit more intense than I can honestly aim for in my bucket list, but a 100 mile hike is definitely on there!
Jean-Marc Vallee's "Wild" tells the story of Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) as she leaves her messed-up, painful life behind for a 1,100 mile hike from the Mexican border to the Canadian border via the Pacific Crest Trail. While making this trek in isolation, Cheryl not only encounters wild animals, blisters, chafing, dehydration, hunger, fear, and loneliness, she also faces many skeletons in her closet that force her to deal with the secrets and painful events in her past.

Vallee's direction produced a beautiful film that vividly painted the vast scenery Cheryl encountered along her journey. With these beautiful images, the audience was able to gain an appreciation for the various settings, as well as challenging environments, one would encounter along this long hike.

Witherspoon put her heart and soul into, in my opinion, her best and deepest performances. She was able to show the raw emotion of her character as she battled this literal journey across the continent as well as her metaphorical journey over her previous life struggles. Witherspoon very effectively showed the multiple layers of Cheryl and the roller coaster of stability she encountered throughout her life.

Although I though this was a pretty good film that made me want to throw on my hiking boots and accomplish something this grand, I had such high expectations for this film and it wasn't able to live up to my hopes. It may have been due to the fragmented scenes jumping from the past to the present, which on one hand was an interesting touch that showed Cheryl's jumbled thoughts throughout the trip, but on the other hand didn't give enough time to properly develop various aspects of the film or allow the audience to become more connected to the central characters. Or it could have been due to the quietness of the film (which I believe was intentional to depict the loneliness of the wilderness and the necessity for Cheryl to create her own noise, hum her own songs, and form her own conversations), which caused slow, quiet moments and took away from the main plot. Most likely, I believe my disappointment was due to the pacing, which was a little slow at various points and pulled me away from the story. If the film were about 30 minutes shorter, it would have alleviated the lulls and greatly improved the overall pacing of the movie.

Overall, this was a decent, semi-moving story that definitely peaked my interest in hiking. However, it wasn't able to live up to my high expectations and didn't deliver the life changing production I had hoped for.

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