The Sloth has never camped in our lives. Why exchange your perfectly comfortable home tree equipped with hot and cold running water and Egyptian cotton linen for damp canvas and a ½ mile trek across a muddy field at 3.00am to relieve your nocturnal bladder? For a HOLIDAY? Having watched Wild, we shall not be changing this situation.
Based on a remarkable true story Wild recounts how Cheryl Strayed (Reece Witherspoon) took it upon herself to hike, alone, the 1,000 mile Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mojave Desert in the south to Washington State in the north. Fit but not overly so, and certainly no Bear Grylls in the survival skills department, it was something of an ambitious undertaking. But, devastated by the recent death of her mother and with her own personal life in crisis, Cheryl had one large advantage up her sleeve – motivation.
At this point The Sloth had happy-clappy, ‘Eat Pray Love’ middle-class angst alarm bells ringing. But (to our relief at least) from flashbacks to her past it becomes clear Cheryl was no angel. A flawed character with a history of drug abuse, she repeatedly cheated on her husband and spiralled into a deep decline involving crack dens of the very worst, stained mattress, Trainspotting-esq kind. Eeew. So exchanging one extreme for another, she undertook the journey as a cathartic new beginning..
Taking one day at a time, diary-style, it brilliantly captures the physical ardor and immensity of the task ahead of her. We watch her struggle laboriously with unknown kit, force down cold porridge for days on end, feel both the threat and camaraderie of meeting the occasional other person out in the wilderness. Cleverly, it doesn’t rush and is all the better for it. From the stunning beauty of a fox in the snow to the (frankly disgusting) sight of Cheryl pulling off her own, bloodied toenail, the minutiae of each day make for more than enough drama. Contemplative and inspiring, Wild is anchored by a great performance from Ms Witherspoon. But you still ain’t getting us nowhere near a tent.
UK release 16 January 2015