Something to Watch: “Wild” Review

Standard

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

The above quote might as well be the tagline for Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. It’s an adaptation of Wild: From Lost to Found, a memoir by Cheryl Strayed. It’s also the most emotionally powerful film I’ve seen this year.

In the film, Cheryl (played on-screen by Reese Witherspoon,) finds her life in shambles and as a result, has been on a streak of self-destructive behavior. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Cheryl chooses to go on an 1,100 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. What follows is a long and dif9:Ificult journey of self-discovery, as Cheryl searches to heal from the various traumatic events in her life. Said traumatic events are explored in a series of flashbacks, which are given about as much screentime as the hike itself.

The first thing that struck me about this movie is the cinematography. Vallée takes full advantage of the story’s setting to capture some beautiful landscapes of many kinds from an up-close, personal perspective. A near-constant combination of medium and close-up shots allows the film to maintain a poignant and breathtakingly intimate atmosphere.

That atmosphere is helped immensely by great performances from all involved, most notably from Witherspoon herself. With so much of the movie being spent with Witherspoon alone, it’s a great thing that her determined-yet-vulnerable performance kept me completely engaged throughout. By the end of the movie, I felt a very particular emotion I hadn’t yet felt in a theater. That’s an accomplishment.

When all is said and done, I would definitely recommend that you go see Wild. The powerful lead performance and intimate atmosphere make for one of the most moving cinematic experiences I’ve seen in a long time. Another contender for best picture, for sure.

You can learn more about Wild at it’s official site.

Something to Watch: “The Theory of Everything”

Standard

Oscar season is well underway and some of the most interesting movies of the year are gracing the screens. Case in point: The Theory of Everything. A biopic about Stephen Hawking? Where do i sign up?

Based on Jane Wilde Hawking’s novel Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, the James Marsh-directed picture tells the decades-long tale of Stephen (Eddie Redmayne), his relationship with his first wife, Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), his fight with motor neuron disease and his rise to fame as a theoretical physicist. The film has several fascinating visual sequences that represent Hawking’s thought process. And though the relationships receive the most attention and the science is simplified for us everyday people, It’s still a very well thought out film.

The whole cast gives heartfelt performances throughout, but the single most impressive performance in the movie is Redmayne’s take on Hawking himself. As Hawking’s muscle control slowly deteriorates over the coarse of the film, Redmayne spares no expense in his interpretation. Every muscle in his body is actively at work showing every once of Hawking’s physical struggle, making his path to figuring out how to live with his condition all the more satisfying.

Those who have studied Hawking’s work might not find any new insight in his brilliant mind. But as a piece about love and the will to live conquering the darkest of fates, The Theory of Everything is a well-executed experience. One that’s definitely worth checking out.

By the by, a fun side-note: the theater I went to see this at decided the best coarse of action is to show Intersteller in the screen next door. Imagine this, a very loud movie with lots of rocket ships, right on the other side of the wall from a very quiet movie with lots of talking. Needless to say, that made for a few entertaining moments.

You can find out more about The Theory of Everything by visiting the official site.