Wild (Fox Searchlight)
Reese Witherspoon bares her heart, soul and body in the new film "Wild." She tackles the role of Cheryl Strayed with gusto and determination and lets herself become totally absorbed. This is not the "sweet little Reese" we have known and loved in other movies. This time out she is a foul-mouthed, drug abusing, sleep around woman who decides to hike the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) in order to find self discovery and redemption. The film is based on a true story and Reese brings it all to glorious life.
The film opens with Strayed in the middle of her 1,100 mile hike. She is bruised and battered and just about fed up with anything and everything that has happened to her in her life. At this particular point she loses her big toe nail and the boot that was encasing it. It seems to be too much and she yells out at the universe with all the venom she can muster.
In flashbacks we learn Cheryl has cheated on her husband Paul (Thomas Sadoski) many times and they are now in the process of getting a divorce. The one person she is closest to is her mother (Laura Dern) but she treats her with contempt at times. She is a woman who uses men and drugs to help her close out how hostile she feels towards the entire world.
When she impulsively decides to hike the grueling PCT she doesn't prepare for her journey. She just throws things together and takes off. But as she passes mile after mile and day after day the journey begins to shape her and help her shed some of her inhibitions and fears.
You cannot imagine how good Witherspoon is in this role. Reading about Cheryl Strayed and getting a glimpse of her character, you would never put her and this actress together. So the movie is a testament to Reese's talent, for at the end of the film you can't imagine anyone else playing the part.
Dern also impresses in the role of the mother, the person Cheryl says is the love of her life. She conveys maturity and unquestioning love completely. Imaging a woman of Dern's age being Witherspoon's mother is a bit of a stretch but somehow she pulls it off.
The movie is rated R for violence, profanity and nudity.
So if you have any doubts about watching "Wild" put them aside. Reese Witherspoon takes a walk on the wild side in "Wild" and she is believable every step of the way.
I scored "Wild" a trekking 8 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper