Wild is the second true story to be released in cinemas this week, the other one being American Sniper. With Wild, however, there's only two guns, and they each have about three seconds of screen time and aren't aimed at anyone. But anyway, the film follows the story of Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon), a woman who, after the death of her mother (Laura Dern) and the divorce of her husband (Thomas Sadoski), decides she wants to walk a thousand miles all alone in the desert.
Wild is brought to us from director Jean-Marc Vallée, the director of Dallas Buyers Club. With Dallas Buyers Club, I was a big fan. I thought the direction was sublime and maybe even a tad underrated. Everybody seemed to be blinded by how brilliant the performances were that the directing seemed to skim past their minds. With Wild, he's done it again, providing us with yet another entertaining bio-pic, even if it's not nearly up to the standards that were set by last year's Dallas Buyers Club. Well, 2013's Dallas Buyers Club for most, but obviously, Australia didn't get it until last year. Whatever. I'm drifting away from the topic yet again. I am seriously making a habit of this.
Reese Witherspoon is absolutely fantastic. She manages to give one of the strongest female performances of 2014, because yes, this film is technically a 2014 released movie. She's so dedicated to the role and to the character and this obviously payed off, scoring her a much deserved Oscar nomination. But she's not the only cast member to score one either. Laura Dern claimed her second nomination for this film, which to be honest, is quite shocking. Her performance is fine, but she's nothing Oscar worthy, especially with her very limited screen time. But hey, nobody really knows what the Academy are thinking when it comes to the Oscars.
Throughout the film, we're told two different stories. The first is about the walk Cheryl is taking, the walk to sort out and move on from her past. We know the basics from the get go, but we don't honestly know a lot. That's what the second story tells us. The flashbacks. We're given a look back at the events in her life that got her to this point, including both a drug and sex addiction. To me, the flashbacks told a much more interesting story. It's not that the walking storyline falls flat, it's just that it's a bunch of walking alone in the desert. It's intriguing, but there's not a lot of story to be found. The flashbacks are the opposite, hence the reason why I enjoyed them more.
There's also something really fascinating about the way Wild is filmed. It perfectly captures the beauty of the wilderness, but at the same time it manages to feel bland and desolate, as if everything is hopeless and human contact is impossible. The cinematography shines off of the screen, revealing everything in a very subtle way, because Wild is an insanely subtle movie. It doesn't blast things in your face, but instead, you need to pay attention. It's not easy to miss things, but the details aren't glaringly obvious either. It's a very mature movie and I like it for that.
To sum up, Wild is another successful bio-pic from the director of the brilliant Dallas Buyers Club. Reese Witherspoon is brilliant in the lead, giving a rather dedicated performance, the direction is solid and the cinematography fascinating.
3 1/2 Stars