Wild will make you believe in the healing power of nature
In 1995, Cheryl Strayed’s life was crashing down around her. Her mother died following a short fight against cancer, she was cheating on her husband, and she was shooting heroin. A pregnancy scare was the last straw. Cheryl left her home, her job and her life to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Oregon to walk “back to the person her mother thought she was.” The journey is treacherous, and Cheryl doubts herself the entire way, but it turns out to be exactly what she needs to get closure on her demons and move on with her life, Reese Witherspoon’s Cheryl is vulnerable and relatable – far from an expert hiker, which makes her all the more likable and her experience real. As a young woman hiking alone, she receives far more help from her fellow male hikers, but also several scary encounters that would probably make many women second-guess the idea altogether. Though Witherspoon is lovely to watch, the new friends and acquaintances she mets along the way help break up the occasional monotony of Cheryl hiking and camping alone. Flashbacks, integrated seamlessly throughout the film, reveal insights into Cheryl’s past that help explain why she feels her old self must be stripped away. And of course, the PCT itself is stunning. It’s inspiring just watching the southern California desert give way to the snowy mountains of the Sierra to the lush Oregon forests. A little more explanation of Cheryl’s fixation on hiking the PCT might have been welcome (why not build houses in South America or backpack across Europe?), but its ultimate effect n her is profound. To find yourself, sometimes you just need to start walking.