Skip to main content

Movie Review | Wild (2014)



In the midst of her arduous journey, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) makes her entrance onto the screen in an opening scene that sums up the nearly 2 hours to come. Startlingly painful and cringe inducing, she must endure an agonizing side effect of her walkabout. Her screams of frustration zip the movie to a flashback, whisking the narrative back to where her voyage began.

It is the first in a long series of garbled recollections that act as the jagged little puzzle pieces, scrapped together in the hopes of explaining why Strayed made the decision to go on a very unpleasant 1,100-mile trek.

Cheryl has had a rough go in life and empathy for her plight is easy to come by. Her father was an abusive alcoholic who the family has to eventually flee from him. Her lighthouse is her loving single-mom Bobbi (Laura Dern) who receives no mercy at life’s cruel hand. Tragedy strikes when a 45-year old Bobbi is diagnosed with cancer and Cheryl’s world is consequently ripped apart. Following the devastating loss of her mother, she falls into drugs and countless sexual trysts. Lost in a sea of grief, she takes a self-destructive wrecking ball to her own existence. 

While her mother’s loss is the apparent starting point, her behavior is soon indicative of a full blown addict and this side of the story is pretty much glossed over. She is shown imbibing in both of her vices while making her hike, without losing control to either of them. Her dabbling is depicted with a flippancy that is alarming and it’s hard to recall whether she actually admits to being an addict in the first place.

Jean-Marc Vallee’s direction is disjointed, scrambling from one scene to the next in a chaotic timeline of events that are muddily tied together. While it’s true people don’t usually reflect upon their lives and recall it in order, watching a movie unfold that way is dizzyingly difficult to follow. As a result learning the framework of past events is next to impossible. The strenuous amount of focus necessary to make sense of it all, only serves to tap one into the exhausting hike Strayed is making. There is nothing invigorating or life affirming to be found here. Awkward moments of isolated humor are drizzled into the mix and with the exception of one entertaining scene involving a reporter named Jimmy Carter (Mo McRae); none of it is actually funny.

Reese Witherspoon gives a respectable performance that is equal parts vulnerable and feisty. She conveys the internalized emotion that burdens Cheryl throughout the film, letting go of fragments of it along the way. A sparkling Laura Dern shines in her brief yet achingly pivotal performance as Cheryl’s soulful mother.

As fine of a job as Witherspoon does, there’s one key hurdle that plagues her casting. Given that Witherspoon was 37 during filming and without any stated clarification; the assumption is that Cheryl is the same age when she takes her expedition. In reality, the real Cheryl Strayed was only 26-years-old when she made her hike. Her mother’s death was a recent event, not one that had occurred 11 years prior. This drastically re-informs the previously understood timeline and without that knowledge, the context of her mother’s death coinciding with her downward spiral is subsequently lost in the fray.

Aside from some stellar quotes, there’s no real message or wisdom to be derived from “Wild”. How Cheryl is able to put her addictions and anger behind her can only be speculated upon as there are few answers given in this adaptation. As a movie it is as weary as its star traveler, as aimless as a needless compass and in the end, depressingly vacant of anything lastingly noteworthy. Rating: 5.5/10



Popular posts from this blog

Richard Armitage interview on SLEEPWALKER

SLEEPWALKER is the latest film from director Elliott Lester. Troubled by bouts of sleepwalking and disturbing nightmares, graduate student Sarah Foster goes to her university's sleep research center for help. When she wakes up after her first night of being monitored, the world she lives in seems to have changed in subtle, Twilight-Zone-esque ways. In fact, every time she goes to sleep now, she wakes up in a slightly different version of her world. With the help of sleep researcher Dr. Scott White, she tries to work her way back to the reality she started in. But when they finally succeed, it’s revealed that Sarah’s world is not what she thought at all.

Today my guest is one of the stars SLEEPWALKER, Richard Armitage. Tonight we talk about his work on that film as well as his work as Thorin Oakenshiled in The Hobbit Films, as John Proctor in The Crucible, and his upcoming films Ocens 8 and the Julie Delpy directed film My Zoe.

Sleepwalker is Now Available on Digital HD and On Dem…

LAFF Review AND THEN THERE WAS EVE

2017
Directed By: Savannah Bloch
Starring: Tania Nolan, Rachel Crowl, Mary Holland, Karan Soni, John Kassir, and Anne Gee Byrd



Alyssa (Nolan) wakes up to find her home pillaged and her husband missing. The burglars have taken everything, down to the photos of her husband. The police offer little help so she turns to a friend of the family Eve (Crowl) for assistance. The film is less of a "who done it" and more of a "what happened."

The prolonged second act of the film focuses on the relationship between Eve and Alyssa. The suspense of the film lingers in the background while their relationship grows. In fact, clues of what is to come are clearly laid out in a way that allows the viewer to see where the film is headed before it gets there. I'm not sure if this is by design but the effect of having the stories trajectory clearly laid out gives the audience permission to accept this blossoming relationship.

Nolan and Crowl both give stunning performances that anc…

BFF review SWEET PARENTS

SWEET PARENTS review 2017
Directed By: David Bly
Starring: David Bly and Leah Rudick
Written By: David Bly and Leah Rudick

Moving to New York City with ambitions of making it as an artist is an uphill battle. Hell, moving to New York with ambitions of breaking into fast food is an uphill battle. Exorbitant rent makes it difficult if not impossible to get a temp job while you audition, paint, write, or sculpt. And paying $28 for an artisan PB&J not only has a heavy tax on your pocketbook, over time it can carry a greater burden on your soul. Spending tons of money to only feel like you are barely keeping your head above water is a crushing way to exist.

SWEET PARENTS is the story of a young couple who have been living the artists struggle in NYC for close to 8 years. Will has dreams of making it as a Chef and Gabby wants to become a professional sculptor. Both start side relationships, as last ditch efforts to support their careers, in what becomes a choice between ambition and lo…