Wild, the first Cheryl Strayed book to be made into a movie, is back at the top of the watch list on HBO Max since the release of Tiny Beautiful Things. In Wild, mother and daughter are played by Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon. Both went on to be executive producers on Tiny Beautiful Things. That’s commitment to the material, folks.
Wild has similar themes and motifs as the more recent series. In fact, a couple of the incidents are exactly the same. The overall story is one of recovery and discovery. Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) took a hike, literally, to get away from her grief, her divorce, and her drug habit.
Cheryl walked the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) by herself, hauling a heavy backpack and a heavy heart. As she walked, she thought back on events in her life and wrote down her thoughts.
Laura Dern played her mother. Her brother Leif was played by Keene McRae. Even though the film was about Cheryl walking hundreds of miles by herself, the cast was large. There were people in her memories and people on the trail.
It was a powerful performance from Reese Witherspoon. Every emotion seemed right on the surface.
The two Cheryl Strayed stories being produced 9 years apart made an interesting difference. Wild had a male writer and a male director and was definitely infected with the male gaze. The 2023 release of Tiny Beautiful Things was women created and directed and free of the male gaze. We’ve come a long way.
Wild is definitely worth watching if you’ve never seen it before. This was my first time watching it. It’s impressive and strong. Reese Witherspoon is excellent.