“Wild” Review

Wild, the new film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, would make a fantastic double billing with last year’s All is Lost. For those of you who need a quick reminder, All is Lost was a J.C. Chandlor movie about a man who finds himself lost at sea after colliding with a shipping container. Starring Robert Redford. And only Robert Redford. It’s nearly 100 minutes of Redford working silently to try to survive. While Wild doesn’t share this unique characteristic, both films rely heavily on the performance of their star, as well as the main character working to survive in nature, despite hostile circumstances. However, Wild differentiates from All is Lost in the fact that it doesn’t shy away from utilizing dialogue and flashbacks in order to give more insight into the character. In this movie, Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl, an ex-heroin addict who attempts to hike the Pacific Coast Trail as a way of getting over her recent divorce and her mother’s death.

Like Jean-Marc Vallée’s last film, Dallas Buyers Club, a big plus for the movie is the quality of the performances. Here, replacing Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey, we have Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon. And while neither actor has the “I lost 40 pounds to play this part” aspect playing for them, they are both incredibly strong. Witherspoon carries the film on her back. While not quite a legendary performance, she is great in the film and helps the movie to be as solid as it is. After close to 2 hours of near-constant screentime, there’s a well-developed character that, as an audience member, you really care about. Dern, appearing only in flashbacks, is sincere and wonderful as a mother trying to raise her kids while seeking self-fulfillment after leaving her abusive husband. She adds a level of heart that’s incredibly necessary for a film like this.

I wouldn’t say that this movie is anything you need to rush out and see, but it’s well worth the price of admission. There are a couple strange lines of dialogue and convenient plot points, but the film is paced well and rarely drops your attention. On a personal level, it just wasn’t anything that spoke to me. It’s well put-together, but doesn’t quite contain the secret touch to have me highly recommend the film. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie a lot. But after seeing it, there wasn’t an intense desire to see it again or go get the book that it’s based off of. I’m glad I saw it though. 7/10.

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