Wild

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(2014) ★★½

Sky Movies Premiere: PREMIERE Friday 6 November, 9.45am and 10.15pm

The charge that Hollywood provides far too few challenging roles for women is borne out by how many unremarkable performances have been rewarded with Best Actress Oscars in the past 20 years (most of them going to Hilary Swank). None, though, was as forgettable as Reese Witherspoon’s toothsome impersonation of June Carter in the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line.

Reese is back walking the line – the 1100-mile Pacific Crest Trail, stretching from the Mojave Desert to Oregon – in a true-story drama that earned Oscar nods for her and screen mom Laura Dern (actually only nine years’ Witherspoon’s senior). Reese is good, too, playing a character who’s hard to warm to.

She’s Cheryl Strayed, whose bestselling memoir has been adapted by Nick Hornby for Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée. Wake up and smell the prestige! Which might be the case if there was actually a story here worth telling. It’s only Vallée’s artful deployment of flashbacks that maintains interest and momentum in a solipsistic celebration that seems pretty hippiefied (aside from the two creepy hunters who act like rape suspects).

As in Sean Penn’s Into the Wild (the story of Christopher McCandless’ journey to Alaska), we’re stuck with a mildly pitiable character who’s dwarfed by the authentic grandeur of the surroundings. Similarly, it’s only Cheryl’s encounters en route – with Earl Brown’s farmer Frank, say, or the rattler that in another film could’ve cut the story short – which provide relief from the blistered feet, the broken nails and the navel gazing.

In the end, it’s a bran muffin movie, arguably good for you but boring. Give Vallée credit, though, for resisting the urge to pump things up pointlessly a la Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. Music is provided mainly by the song fragments complementing Cheryl’s moods and determination – it’s a typical Hornby ploy, artistic and intellectual credibility by association.

Humorous moments are thin on the ground, but it’s kind of funny that Reese is also dwarfed by a monster backpack that would be hard to manage even with assistance from a forklift. She also has the funniest line, when phoning her ex-husband from Reno: “If you were here we could get divorced again.” Happy trails!

Certificate: 15

Duration: 116min

IMDB – Wild

TMDB – Wild

Rotten Tomatoes – Wild

Other Showings Date & Time
Sky Movies Premiere Saturday, 7 November at 9:45AM
Sky Movies Premiere Saturday, 7 November at 10:15PM
Sky Movies Premiere Sunday, 8 November at 9:30AM
Sky Movies Premiere Sunday, 8 November at 11:45PM
Sky Movies Premiere Monday, 9 November at 8:00AM
Sky Movies Premiere Monday, 9 November at 10:15PM
Sky Movies Premiere Tuesday, 10 November at 9:45AM
Sky Movies Premiere Tuesday, 10 November at 8:00PM
Sky Movies Premiere Wednesday, 11 November at 9:45AM
Sky Movies Premiere Wednesday, 11 November at 11:45PM
Sky Movies Premiere Thursday, 12 November at 9:45AM
Sky Movies Premiere Thursday, 12 November at 10:15PM