One of my most popular posts ever on this blog was my review of a Martin Sheen movie, The Way . It got thousands of views and I received a lot of emails from people about it, some pretty touching. Even though that post was a couple years ago, I still get views/comments about it from time to time. I bring this up because that movie and this one, Wild, have a lot in common.
I picked this movie up because it is the true story of a lady who hiked over 1000 miles from Mexico to Canada. She was motivated to do so because after her mother died, she spiraled downhill to the point she had become a heroin and sex addict. As you learn in the opening scenes, she’d never hiked before in her life yet chose this demanding challenge in an effort to find herself and dare I say, forgive herself. A death prompts the characters in both movies mentioned to start their hike which is a common real-life reason for many people who attempt these trails.
Now a hike like this is something I could see me doing although I’d prefer something not quite so high up as those Sierra’s. I’m actually not a camper either but there is something on my bucket list I hope to do some day if my body holds out. So, I could totally relate to Reese Witherspoon’s character in this movie and it was one reason I rented it.
It did make me wonder though – what is there about long hikes like this that help people find themselves or just regroup after a tragedy or rough patch in life? Both movies have it as their motivation but I can tell you that it isn’t a Hollywood invention, the comments and emails I have gotten reflect that real life drive and as I mentioned this is a true story. What is it in our everyday life that disconnects us from the sense of purpose we rediscover in the wilderness where we have no control? I don’t think I have the answer to that but it nags at me for there is an intangible of some sort, that is only rediscovered by losing ourselves in the hardships, and often the solitude of nature.
This movie is an honest portrayal of someone – and frankly, it could be anyone of us – who was beat down by life then just before reaching the point of being too far gone, they decided crawl their way back with a new definition of who they were.
The script, based on the book by the same name, is tight and delivers. A lot of wisdom is shared here and if you don’t do some thinking when viewing this then your brain has ceased to function. The cast, nominated for Oscars, delivers a first-class performance. This is mainly a Reese Witherspoon vehicle and she carries that weight better than most actresses could with Laura Dern giving a great supporting performance.
This movie was good enough that it makes me want to read the book now and coming from me, that is a high compliment. This is available for rental and it rates 5 by 5 on my scale. I encourage you to check it out.