Wild

My life – like all lives – mysterious, irrevocable and sacred, so very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.

I saw Wild in theaters. Dragging my boyfriend to a late showing, I believe we were the only ones in the theater. And I loved it immediately.

Wild is about Cheryl Strayed’s journey along the Pacific Crest Trail (or the PCT). The film opens with Cheryl crouched over her broken, bloody feet. We begin to see what kind of woman she is when, with one pull, yanks off her dislodged toenail. As she reels from the pain,  one of her hiking shoes tumbles off the cliff and into the valley below. Far below. Unreachably below. And with a scream, she throws the other shoe with it.

(Hmmmm – after recounting this scene, I do believe that it may be a metaphor for the movie. But since deepness isn’t my speciality, I’ll leave it at that.)

After this scene, the movie backtracks to the day before the hike and the rest of the hike unfolds in chronological order. There are difficulties along the way as well as moments of beauty.

There is a sunrise and a sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.

Perhaps the most nervewracking hiking scenes (for me at least) occurred with each male encounter she makes along the way. Some of the men she meets are nice and funny and wonderful. Others make her uncomfortable at the minimum and scared for her safety at the maximum. Yes there is a scene where she literally runs away from a man in the woods.

But the film is also peppered with flashbacks. Flashbacks to her childhood. To her memories with her mom before, during, and after her mother’s cancer. There are memories of her unravelling – from the drugs to the anonymous sex to her divorce. And finally to the event that forces Cheryl to question the woman she has become. To vow that she will walk herself back to herself.

The movie itself is beautiful. Deserts. Mountains. Snow. Streams. Forests. Sunrises. Sunsets. And more. But even with the setting, it’s Reese Witherspoon who makes this movie. She plays a Cheryl who is unimaginable but yet relatable at the same time. She’s funny and realistic. Walking the trail is not easy for her. From her struggles to lift the pack to the bruises and marks her body endures, I know that’s what would happen to me.

I also got a sense of how her mother’s death destroyed her. I understood her pain. I understood her urge to throw herself onto the trail. Sometimes a character’s motivation and feelings are lost on me. But not here. Quite simply, Reese Witherspoon was amazing in this role.

The only thing I didn’t like about the movie was simply the order of her flashbacks. They pair well with what Cheryl is experiencing in the present but they are completely out of order. And at the end of the movie, I found myself questioning when they occurred. Was she married when her mother died? I think so but you never see the husband in these flashbacks. Was she still married during her heroin use? After the initial viewing, I said yes but my boyfriend thought no. (After the second viewing, I know she was still married by the lack of a tattoo – something I had missed the first time around.)

But even with this, I can’t fault the movie. The flashback arrived like memories do. They aren’t remembered in a clear, concise order but spring up from what’s currently going on. So I get it. I just didn’t like it so much.

In the end, Wild is more than just one woman walking. Yes Cheryl finds herself on the trail. Yes she grieves along the way. But I think she also comes to terms with her life. It was what it was. It was beautiful and sacred and wild.

[title type=special-h3 color=#555555 class=lauraquestion]Want to see Wild or, perhaps, walk the PCT?[/title]

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