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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Wild | Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern | Review

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5sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT Judy Thorburn

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5lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT



People have their own way of dealing with grief. Unfortunately, some have a difficult time handling their pain and sorrow and become self destructive.

Cheryl Strayed is just one example. Wild, which is based on Stayed's brutally honest, best selling memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” chronicles the young woman's path from damaging behavior to redemption.

Reese Witherspoon who picked up the rights to the book, produced the film and stars as the real life Cheryl. It is by far her best performance to date. Embodying the mind, body and soul of the deeply troubled, yet strong willed young woman, Witherspoon turns in a raw, heart wrenching, flawless performance that will surely grab her an Oscar nomination.

After the death of her mother (Laura Dern, who also turns in a wonderful, Oscar worthy performance) whom she called “the love of her life”, Cheryl was a broken young woman who reacted in way that sent her on a downward spiral. She proceeded to cheat on her husband by having random sex with strangers and became a drug and heroin addict, which resulted in the destruction of her marriage.

Looking to reclaim her life, Cheryl decided to hike 1100 miles, alone, on the Pacific Crest Trail. As we follow her grueling, physically demanding, mountainous trek, occasional flashbacks recount her painful past, centering on the close relationship she had with her mother.

Along the way Cheryl, an inexperienced hiker, is forced to endure several hardships and challenges that would have forced others to quit. Not Cheryl. Driven by the memory of her mother's words, “There is a sunrise and sunset every day and you can put yourself in the way of beauty”, she refused to quit, determined to find the strength to persevere through thick and thin “and get back to the woman my mother thought I was”.

Working from a script by Nick Hornby (writer of the novels High Fidelity and About a Boy) director Jean-Marc Vallée, who did a magnificent job helming last year's, Dallas Buyers Club, once again delivers an emotionally riveting story about how we choose to save ourselves when all seems lost.

In a TV interview, Reese Witherspoon said that to portray Cheryl, she drew from her own life experience. After her maternal grandmother died, Reese stated that she held her mother's grief and therefore, saw herself in the story. Never before in the history of her film career has the actress exposed herself like this and the payoff is well deserved accolades.

I am sure this emotionally moving, well crafted story punctuated by two powerful performances, will resonate with millions of movie goers as it ultimately sends a universal, uplifting message.

Cheryl's story will especially hit a chord for women (like yours truly) whose mothers have made a profound, positive impact on their lives. Just as mothers possess the ability to heal their depressed child, spending some alone, soul searching time amid the powerful embrace of Mother Nature, can be a spirit lifting, life changing experience.

For all these elements, Wild is a must see.


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