“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.