When shit hits the fan, we can now all turn to cinema for a dose of inspiration to go through some helluva adversity in pure Hollywood-style. Depending how deep you’re buried in life’s profound shit, the silverscreen already has myriad DIY options for us to choose from, tailoured to your pick-me-up needs. If you’ve given up on society, can’t overcome grief, dumped by your spouse, fired from your job, recover from addiction or even fulfill your douchebag dreams of outdoor achievements – go to the wilderness (Into The Wild), cross the Australian outback (Tracks), travel around Asia (Eat, Pray, Love), climb rocks (127 Hours), sail a boat (All Is Lost) or for good measure, vacate Earth and go to space (Gravity). Now, this time, why not hike the entire 1,100 km Pacific Crest Trail? It’ll do you a world of good. Reese Witherspoon says so (or at least, the actual person her character is based on, Cheryl Strayed, who wrote the kind of self-help hiking memoir for somebody like Oprah to weep on). Since all who’ve done the hike it didn’t write a bestselling book like Strayed did, Hollywood thinks it’s important that a film should be made about this. That a woman crossed the Mojave Desert, climbed mountains, broke a toenail, endured heat and snow and lonely nights and emerged on the other side a rejuvenated soul.[divider]+[/divider]
What it lacks in invention makes up for its winning sincerity, despite how unutterably conventional this tale of self-discovery is.[divider]+[/divider]
No amount of originality sets this apart from the many other aforementioned against-all-odds movies. What it lacks in invention makes up for its winning sincerity, despite how unutterably conventional this tale of self-discovery is. There is nearly nothing we haven’t seen before in Wild and its account of a person in downward spiral, grieving a parental loss and marriage breakdown, seeking for healing and redemption in nature after years of self-inflicted damage caused by heroin and lots of promiscuous sex. Basically, it’s a Lifetime Channel special programme wrapped up in an indie-cred outfit. Reese Witherspoon, who hasn’t given a great performance since Walk The Line (and prior to that, Legally Blonde), does wonders to an incredibly Oscar-bait role that I’m wholeheartedly surprised the words ‘For Your Consideration’ don’t crop up across the screen every five minutes. She is the best thing here – plumbing emotional resonance in a deeply flawed character, with personal issues that feel realistically human. It’s no mean feat to make a flashback (and there are fuckloads of flashbacks in Wild) seem excusable, with Witherspoon allowing her versatility shine through recurring moments of anguish and disintegration, as well as memories of happiness with her cancer-stricken yet lively mother (Laura Dern, a true veteran in depicting nuance and depth with subtlety). Take Witherspoon out of the formula, and this picture is a deathly bore.