Posts Tagged ‘Reese Witherspoon’

I first heard about Cheryl Strayed’s memoir ‘Wild’ when I read Valorie’s (from Books Can Save Your Life) review of it. Since then I have wanted to read it. When I discovered that Reese Witherspoon has made a movie out of it, I decided to watch that first. 

Wild Directed By Jean Marc Vallee

‘Wild’ follows the life of Cheryl Strayed when she decides to take a hike for more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. She has recently gone through a divorce and her mother, whom she loved dearly, has passed away after suffering from cancer. Cheryl feels that the hike will heal her heart and make her see things from a new perspective. She has no experience of hiking before and so she learns new things everyday – her stove doesn’t work initially and she has to throw it out, her shoes are too small and her toes start hurting and bleeding soon and her backpack, which she has carefully packed with all things which she considers necessary including a few books, is heavier than her (one of the characters while welcoming her to a resting place tells everyone there – ‘Say hello to Cheryl and the monster’, the ‘monster’ being her huge backpack.) She meets strangers on the way, most of whom are hikers or who work in farms or live in the countryside, and they are mostly friendly and help her out. One of them shows her a resting place and when she reaches there welcomes her and makes her comfortable and introduces her to other hikers there. Another cooks her a meal and shows her how to travel light. Another takes her home, when she is stuck in the middle of the wilderness without food, and Cheryl is able to have a hot shower and a hot meal. There are virtually no woman hikers, but Cheryl meets one accidentally and she is so happy with the encounter and they have a long conversation. Cheryl also meets a shady character or two, some of whom look threatening and dangerous. She also meets a snake, a fox, a llama, a dog and a horse. She traverses through different kinds of terrain – deserts, fields, mountains, snow-covered peaks, small streams and big rivers – she hikes through them all. During her hike, while resting in the night inside her tent she reads books, mostly Adrienne Rich’s poetry. At every rest place she leaves a quote from a poet or a writer with her name written alongside. Other hikers see that and Cheryl becomes famous among hiking groups. 

While the movie shows Cheryl’s hiking in a linear manner, it also goes back and depicts her life as a child with her mother and brother, her relationship with her mother after growing up, how her mother is always happy though the situation of the family isn’t that encouraging (Cheryl says this while talking to her fellow woman hiker – “My mother used to say something that drove me nuts. There is a sunrise and a sunset everyday. And you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.” It was one of the most inspiring scenes in the movie and one of my favourites. I live near the beach, but I am ashamed to say that I rarely go there these days. After seeing that scene, I feel I am wasting all that beauty. I should put myself in the way of beauty – in the middle of that sunset – one of these days), how her relationship with her husband changes and how they end up divorcing each other, how her mother gets cancer and how that breaks her heart, how after her divorce and after her mother has passed Cheryl’s life takes a turn for the worse – all these are depicted as flashbacks throughout the movie.

Though there are many human characters and a few animal characters, I feel that most of the movie is about Cheryl’s conversation with nature – the desert and the mountains and the river and the snow and the forest and the trees – and what she learns from those interactions and how she evolves as a person because of that. Nature is probably the main character in the movie and exerts its profound presence throughout.

Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed is wonderful. Laura Dern as her mother, who is always happy and singing and dancing, is wonderful too. She is a very inspiring character. My other favourite characters were the woman hiker with whom Cheryl has a conversation, and a young boy and his grandmother who come with a llama with whom Cheryl has a conversation.

I loved ‘Wild’. It is a very inspiring movie. It is a shame that it didn’t make it into the ‘Best Picture’ nominations list. Cheryl Strayed says that it was snubbed because of Hollywood sexism. It is hard to disagree with her.

Have you seen ‘Wild’ or read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir? What do you think about them?

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