It’s Sunday evening, you and your hangover are just about on speaking terms, and as such, there’s really only one thing for it….light the fire, pour a liberal glass of “hair of the dog” and settle down with a movie to distract from the knowledge that Monday morning is fast approaching.
And so ensues the great debate that happens in every living room, in every house, between every couple at this crucial stage in the weekend…….What movie should we watch? Action? Fantasy? Comedy? For me, Sunday evenings and a film “based on true events” fit together perfectly like love and marriage. As the song so beautiful puts it, “ya can’t have one without the other!!”
This week’s pick, “Wild”, Nick Hornby’s 2014 adaptation of Cheryl Strayeds’ New York Times number 1 best-selling memoir, “Wild: A journey from lost to found.”
So, what’s it all about? Cheryl, played by Reese Witherspoon, embarks upon a gruelling 1100 mile solo hike through the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail. Following her mother’s death to cancer, Cheryl is unable to process her grief and spirals into self-destruction. A heroin habit and many sexual encounters with strangers cement the toxic relationship she is developing with herself. She is acutely aware that, in order to break the cycle which she now identifies as everyday life, she must stop using these coping mechanisms to numb the pain of her mothers passing. In short, she needs to be able to feel again.
Throughout this transformative journey, feel she does. Of course there’s the physical side that one would expect from a trek such as this. From the numerous raw and bleeding grazes etched into the skin of her ever shrinking frame to the loose toenails that need to be ripped from their nail bed in one swift movement in order to continue hiking. But there is also an intense emotional journey.
During the trek, flashes of Cheryl’s back story become interlaced with the present day to allow a greater understanding of what has happened in her life to shape her as the complex individual she has become.
I’m not going to offer any spoilers. Does she succeed or does she decide to pack up and return to her previous life? You’ll have to watch to find out.
I will leave you with this, during the journey she meets a fellow hiker who asks her if she ever gets lonely trekking solo. Her response, “I’m lonelier in my real life than I am out here.” And so, some food for thought, in a world so full of other people perhaps it is in isolation, that a true sense of physical and mental freedom can be found or perhaps not? You decide.