Wild (2014)
December 11, 2014 11:16 PM - Subscribe

A chronicle of one woman's 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe.
posted by mathowie (11 comments total)
I read the book this past Summer and enjoyed the book immensely, and I loved how raw and real it felt. I'd lost my mom a couple years before reading it and revisiting that heartbreak was rough in the book, but I really loved Cheryl Strayed's arc in the story, how she faced problems matter-of-factly and her eventual growth so I was eagerly anticipating the film. When I saw it getting 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, I started counting the days until I could see it and I found the first public screening in Oregon so I could see it tonight.

The movie was really well done, the performances from Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern are both phenomenal. I imagine they could both get Oscar nominations for it. I was blown away by how much of the book shows up in the film -- I've read the books before seeing films dozens of times before and came away disappointed that they left out a favorite moment or that whole sections of a book had no impact when translated to film, but pretty much every scene from the book shows up and it's probably the closest adaptation I've seen in some time. Some of my favorite moments from the book don't quite resonate in the same way, and they move the order around a bit in small details but otherwise it was very close.

While I thought the film lost a few of little magical bits explored in the book (the scene with frogs is lost, as is the time she goes a couple weeks while only having 41 cents and can't buy food), I was surprised by how much more emotional the major parts were in the film vs. the book. Cheryl losing her mom hit me like a ton of bricks on screen, since it happens fairly fast and in short flashbacks. In the book, it builds over hundreds of pages early on.

The cinematography was beautiful, and the film had a bunch of amazing moments. I cried 2-3 times and felt mentally exhausted at the end, even though the two hours of the film seemed to fly by. I don't know if I would want to see it again since it was so heavy for me but I really thought this was a fantastic film.
posted by mathowie at 11:29 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I visited my family for Christmas last year and brought a pile of books with me to read, one of which was "Wild." It was raw and powerful and utterly addictive. I read the whole thing in one sitting, crying and feeling so much emotion the whole way through. When I found out that there was a movie that was going to be released based on the book I was so excited! Every few weeks I would spend a few minutes googling and trying to see a movie poster, trailer, whatever. I don't know why, but I haven't seen any advertisements or hype about the movie in the "wild." The closest I got was when I saw a poster for it at the local theater, which is kind of strange because they aren't even showing the movie there and in fact the closest mainstream theater that is playing it is in another state and over an hour and a half away. Fortunately, I just looked up the local indie theater and they're showing it next weekend so I guess I'll get to see it soon! I'm looking forward to it, especially after hearing your positive review mathowie.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 7:14 AM on December 12, 2014

Well, you just sold me on checking it out.

I saw the trailer when I went to see Tracks and just kind of dismissed it as a wussie version of what I was watching. But it sounds great. Plus, excellent cast.
posted by latkes at 7:26 AM on December 12, 2014

Totally random, but I can't believe I instantly recognized the lead singer of Everclear showing up as a tattoo artist in a scene for 30 seconds. I haven't thought about that band in years, and for some reason I just knew, hey that's Art from Everclear! when I saw him.
posted by mathowie at 9:00 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

I really liked the movie too, and I haven't read the book. Reese Witherspoon's performance is great throughout, and I'm usually just kinda meh for her stuff. I thought the ending was a little abrupt and I'm kind of a stickler for good endings, but it didn't bother me too much here.
posted by dogwalker at 12:44 PM on December 12, 2014

I don't normally go for the whole "redemption by nature," but after reading about the extensive use of the Oregon Cascades, I might see it just for the scenery.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:59 PM on December 12, 2014

I actually think - as an experience - the movie is just ever so slightly better than the book (which is also amazing, don't get me wrong). Or rather I suppose I felt the movie on a visceral emotional level moreso than I felt the book. The visuals of Cheryl's multiple acts of cheating, her heroin use, and Bobbi's deathbed scenes were agonizingly gut-wrenching on screen. But for some reason I found the account of the killing of Bobbie's horse so much harder to take in the book - so I was relieved the movie did not spend as much "time" so-to-speak on the horse as the book did. Because I'm not sure I could have watched that for more than the brief flashes we got.

Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon owned those roles. Not a false note anywhere. Yes, Oscars.

I fully believed Reese as a 26-year-old Cheryl in 1995 even though IRL Reese will turn 39 in March. I'll have what she's having.

I loved Cheryl's cameo as the driver dropping off Reese at the motel in the beginning. "Good luck!"

The fox was cool and adorbs.

When the little 5-year-old boy in woods sings "Red River Valley" pretty much our entire theater audience collectively lost it.

The scene with the hunter surprising her after he used her water filter was even more terrifying to see on screen.

I fully understand the choice to cut out sister Karen and the step-father from the film. My one quibble had to do with the costumes of all things - Reese as Cheryl's clothes should have been much baggier, as was the fashion in the 90s, as evidenced in the actual pictures of Cheryl at the end credits. Instead we got too-form-fitting 2014-ish versions of "90s" clothes.
posted by hush at 12:07 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

for some reason I found the account of the killing of Bobbie's horse so much harder to take in the book

Yeah, I was really dreading this scene in the movie since it's excruciating in the book. They shot the horse in one shot in the film which was good, but I seem to recall in the book it took several shots and the horse was struggling, which was totally traumatic to read. That would be totally awful in the film and going a bit too far.
posted by mathowie at 8:44 AM on December 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I knew very little about when I saw it yesterday, and one unexpected takeaway I had was this incredible sense of dread and almost physical unease relating to the constant menace from the men Cheryl encountered on the journey. The scene with the bowhunter was the most horrible, but almost every encounter made me tense, even when the men were seemingly friendly, helpful, or liked by Cheryl. I thought this even about the guy she met in Ashland, for example.

So, that felt extremely effective to me, since I get to live my life walking around generally without fear of violence from men, and the movie took me to a place where I had to think about it for a while.

I was impressed by how the screenplay worked in the bits and pieces of Cheryl's history in a way that seemed organic and seamless, with each small scene telling us a little bit more about her journey.

Also, Reese Witherspoon was awesome. Cannot think off the top of my head of a better lead acting performance in a movie this year.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:12 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Saw it yesterday, and I'm not really exaggerating much when I say I was crying or on the verge of tears most of the time. Probably because I'd read the book, so I knew what was coming. It was a very powerful and cathartic moviegoing experience.

I knew very little about when I saw it yesterday, and one unexpected takeaway I had was this incredible sense of dread and almost physical unease relating to the constant menace from the men Cheryl encountered on the journey.

One of my favorite scenes of the film is near the end, when Reese is sitting with the three male backpackers, and the ranger comes out and brings her coffee. They all give her good-natured shit about how much people all along the trail want to give her stuff and help her out, because she's a young, attractive woman. It's an amazing moment, because it shows how well-meaning but clueless they are about what it's like to be a woman on the trail. I mean, that very ranger had essentially bullied her into agreeing to have a drink with him the night before, which she was only able to get out of because they (other men) came along. And yeah, people want to protect her, but she is genuinely in more danger than the men on the trail. It's a small moment, but it struck me as so true and real.
posted by lunasol at 11:50 AM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]

Late to the party but yeah, the constant reminders of being female in this world made my heart sink every time. It seemed that the only men who didnt hit on her or threaten her were other campers.

I did think it was realky good though. I expected more of an Eat Pray Live vibe but this was much heavier. Witherspoon and Durn definitely earned those nominations.
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:50 PM on March 13, 2016

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