Monday, October 20, 2014

London Film Festival 2014: Wild Review

Monday, October 20, 2014

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée 
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Brian Van Holt
Running time: 115 minutes
Rating: 15 

Based on the Cheryl Strayed's autobiography Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail, Wild tells the story of a 26 year old woman who decides to go on a hike to cleanse herself of her past and find some solace after the passing of her mother Bobbi (Laura Dern).

With such a tremendous story, and a biography worthy of an Oprah book club inclusion, Wild falls flat and disappoints with its failure in moving the audience, and you would think this would happen with the intimate and vivid moments ranging from her flashbacks to the moment she realises she has to go on the trail. The ingredients for a good drama are all there; substance abuse, an abusive father, a sex addiction and a loved mother lost to cancer, but the quest of Cheryl Strayed finding herself is lost in a disconnect with the trail, which the film would have benefited from portraying the only companion throughout.

There is also some significant attention to the sexual experiences in this film, after all Strayed was an addict. But the emotional depth is completely surpassed by someone's need to see Witherspoon with her chest out. We have to admit that her past is very important in the story, but the point has been completely missed, with images thrown in our faces with a bored "and then this happened" attitude. Also another thing that will completely nag you is the fact that there is never an uncomfortable moment for her on the trail, instead she looks perfect, blue eyed with a bit of mud smudged on her face with a beautiful backdrop behind her.

But after buying the rights to the film soon after the book release, Witherspoon was obviously the natural choice to be cast, but if we are being honest here, she adds almost nothing to the film. Usually roles like this could be a break out for the star involved, but Witherspoon could have easily been replaced without the film missing out.

Wild could have been a great film. It had everything going for it: a tremendous inspiring story as its base, directed by Dallas Buyers Club's Jean-Marc Vallée, and most importantly it is written by 'novels adapted to film' legend Nick Hornby, but the film makers disinterest in making a sincere film shows. Wild would have benefited from bravery, allowing Reese Witherspoons alone on the trail with her thoughts instead of constantly trying to find company, becomes distracting and does not really allow the audience to get into it.


Wild is part of the London Film Festival lineup, and will be released in the UK January 15th 2015 

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