Video: Finding solace

by Richard Gould

WILD is a terrific film and deserves an even larger viewing than its hit December release garnered it. Credit all to Reese Witherspoon who, despite being in virtually every scene<0x2014>and most of those alone on some vertebra of the long Sierra backbone<0x2014>absolutely radiates the drama her character’s impulsive decision has sent her on. That decision is of course to hike the famed Pacific Crest Trail from border to (almost) border, the Camino de Santiago of spirit-seekers up and down the West, in hope of coming to terms with old demons left behind and finding new bearings to give her life meaning. It’s a windswept, unforgiving place where she comes to realize that no such deals are expected or deserved. The genius of director Jean-Marc Vallée and screenwriter Nick Hornby is to have the surrounding vastness carry her memories right back to her<0x2014>fresh-scrubbed, the way they often will on a long stretch of solitude, and their cumulative effect is devastating. It turns out that Cheryl Strayed was no angel, and the long march north will work out several toxins in the expected manner. But what haunts her are the sins that only she knows about, a shying away from life’s commitments and casual treatment of people close to her she now sees were fragile and vulnerable. How unexpected to find solace in other people met along the way, in all their variety, here in the faraway wild. Walden it ain’t, and thank the void for that. If you’re at all doubtful about getting nature’s uplift from a rental, see this movie.

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