I read Wild a few months ago and was very excited to see the film. Cheryl’s memoir resonated with me, dealing with her mother’s untimely death and inner demons, that had her spiraling out of control, made the book a quick page turner. Typically I don’t have high hopes for book adaptations, since everything you love about the book usually doesn’t translate well to screen. Sadly, Wild hasn’t changed that opinion.
In ‘Wild,’ Reese Witherspoon’s performance was great, however the film lacked the emotional journey Cheryl poured into each of her pages. The opening scene of Wild, Cheryl is taking off her hiking boots somewhere during her 1,100-mile hike across the Pacific Crest Trail. She’s assessing the damage her boots have created on her feet, when her boot accidentally falls off the cliff, mind you mid pulling off a dead toenail. In frustration, she begins to scream, and kicks off the other boot down the same ravine. It’s a powerful scene visually, directed by Jean-Marck Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club), and emotionally, however the rest of the film falls short of the opening.
In a series of flashbacks throughout Cheryl’s hike, we see glimpses of her life before the hike across the PCT. This is where the film loses its connection with the audience. I watched the film with two non-book readers and they seemed confused by her journey. Sure, the scenes of her downward spiral into drug and sex addiction were their, but the scenes were too short to seem believable.
However, Reese stood out with her subtle acting from purchasing the wrong gas for her stove to her encounter with a very creepy male hunter. Some of the characters didn’t make it to the screen, which of course is understandable, though I felt cheated by these exclusions. They played the emotional card for Cheryl’s journey to discovery and forgiveness.
At the end, we are left with a wanting feeling that can only be described as unsatisfying. We don’t really know if the journey helped her in the long run.
Wild, also stars Laura Dern as Cheryl’s mother, and Thomas Sadoski (The Newsroom) as her friend-devoted-ex-husband, making it a well rounded ensemble. The score was absolutely spot on with tracks from Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen and The Shangri-Las. To view or purchase the Wild Motion Picture Soundtrack tunes go to Amazon.com.
As a book reader of Wild this was a average adaptation, but I felt it missed the impact the book provided. And though, I enjoyed Reese’s performance I think there were stronger female roles this year – Jennifer Anniston in Cake (film review).
Let me know what you thought of Wild in the comments below! Wild opened in select theatres across North America on December 5th.
Happy Movie Watching,