Review by Jenni Miller:
Reese Witherspoon gets admirably down and dirty in this adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir about her trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a trip she’s barely prepared for; unlike the more experienced hikers she meets along the way, her bag is unwieldy and full of things she doesn’t really need, and she’s not nearly ready for the physical travails of the task, from bloody toenails to crapping outside. Left alone in the wilderness, Strayed has plenty of time to reflect on the life-shattering events that sent her packing, from the crippling loss of her mother (Laura Dern) to the self-destructive impulses that torpedoed her marriage.
Like Strayed’s autobiography, Wild relies on inner monologues to illustrate her harrowing journey. Nick Hornby’s script feels a bit uneven, with a few too many whispery voiceovers, but Witherspoon’s temerity carries the day. She doesn’t flinch from the emotional rawness conveyed in Strayed’s original text, whether she’s revisiting memories of her mother in happier days or the darkest moments of her own sexual acting out and drug use. Brief appearances from Gaby Hoffmann as Strayed’s best friend help change things up a bit, as do the colorful characters she meets during her travels, but it’s up to Witherspoon to do all the heavy narrative lifting.
Emily Rems is a feminist writer, editor, rock star, playwright, and occasional plus-size model living in New York’s East Village. Best known as managing editor of BUST magazine, Emily is also a music and film commentator for New York’s NPR affiliate WNYC, and is the drummer for the horror-punk band the Grasshoppers. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the anthologies Cassette from my Ex and Zinester’s Guide to NYC, and her short stories have been published in Rum Punch Press, Lumen, Prose ‘N Cons Mystery Magazine, Writing Raw, and PoemMemoirStory. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for fiction in 2015 and is working on a novel. Follow her on Twitter @emilyrems.