Sex, drugs and more sex, this is the life that Cheryl Strayed is trying to leave behind. She does so by hiking more than 1,000 miles cross-country on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). Vallée gives us another honest and hard film of the human condition as he did in Dallas Buyers Club and Witherspoon is with him every step of the way. Based on the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, scriptwriter Nick Hornby (About a Boy) takes Strayed’s very own memoir and blossoms it right on screen. Through this trek of trial and error Witherspoon gives us a gritty and emotionally resonant performance. It’s her best achievement of her career.
Following her divorce and death of her beloved mother (a poignant Laura Dern), Cheryl spirals down to a life recklessness and destructive behavior. She’ll screw any guy that comes in her path and snort or shoot up any drug that is given to her. Cheryl hits an all time low and needs to get her life back together. The answer? Walk a 1,000 miles on the trail to recovery. But Cheryl really doesn’t know much about hiking. Her pack is too big and her shoes are too small. This makes her expedition ever more difficult. And Vallée doesn’t just make you watch this heartbreaking journey; instead you walk and suffer through it with her. He makes you feel Cheryl’s pain in your bones.
We’re there through every bruise or cut our hurting heroine gets on this rocky path. Sometimes it’s difficult to endure but in all of the grief and despair Witherspoon’s optimism keeps us going. Through heart and determination Witherspoon cuts you deep and gives hope to anyone who is or has struggled with addiction. Wild is powerful, inspiring and at times agonizing. You feel for Cheryl and want her to succeed. Wild takes you to a place of hope and wonder. It’s a hike worth taking.