December, 2014, Drama

The most surprising thing about Reese Witherspoon’s new film is that isn’t wild at all. The actress portrays author Cheryl Strayed, whose 1000-mile trek up the Pacific Coast Trail a few years ago produced a best-selling memoir that forms the basis of screenwriter Nick Hornby’s script.

 Yet despite director Jean-Marc Vallée’s (Dallas Buyers Club) earnest efforts to enliven Ms. Strayed’s long walk into something profound, audiences are left with little more than some lovely shots of the gorgeous scenery she encountered along the way accompanied by Ms. Strayed’s nearly endless musings on how her personal life became such a wreck. These reflections allow Witherspoon to take off her clothes, swear profusely and shoot up various drugs in flash-backs that strive mightily to give some emotional heft to the proceedings, but in the end, Wild turns out to be little more than a handsomely filmed travelogue featuring Witherspoon as its appealing travel guide.

 The journey was obviously a major event in Strayed’s life and movie may re-launch Ms. Witherspoon’s screen career – but there’s precious little here for the viewer.

 The Verdict? Skip this one unless you’re a woman in her mid-30’s who wants to fantasize about chucking a conventional middle class life for a long walk in the mountains.

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