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Wild (DQ)


Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Gaby Hoffman, Michael Huisman, W Earl Brown, Cliff De Young

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

On the run from the wreckage of her life, Cheryl Strayed (Witherspoon) decided to clean up her act with a daunting 1,100-mile solo hike over the breadth of America's western side on the Pacific Crest Trail. It seems to have helped her begin the change, from a grieving daughter hooked on sex and drugs, into a famous writer and novelist.

The leading performance, however, does little to convey this gradual transformation and the similarly-themed Tracks (without the backstory) from last year is in every way a superior movie.

After the death of her adoring mother (Dern, excellent), Cheryl's life - and marriage - falls apart, something we see all too frequently in the heavily-signposted flashbacks

Although this does give Witherspoon a chance to get down and dirty and besmirch her usual squeaky-clean image, feigning sex and drug addiction and shouting 'f-u-u-ck!' a lot at an imposingly-photographed wilderness does not necessarily a good performance make. The petite blonde star is OK if a little bland, but Dern quite frankly wipes the floor with her in terms of quality acting.

And the film itself, while breathtaking to behold (as long as it's outdoors), fails to move us or really engage our emotions.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Colour (uncredited).
115 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 11 Jan 2015