It is not everyday a long distance walk is the subject of a Hollywood movie. Based on Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir Wild; from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail , the film depicts her 1,100 mile section hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), a walking trail running from the Mexican border to Canada.
Reese Witherspoon both produces the film and portrays Cheryl, a twenty-six year old reeling from a crumbled marriage and the loss of her mother . When drugs and sex fail to ease her grief for more than a few moments, Cheryl sets out on her PCT hike, hoping to find solace and heal her shattered life. The struggles on the trail (a ridiculously heavy pack, appallingly ill-fitting boots and a searingly hot Mojave desert) reflect her many life traumas, revealed in flash backs throughout the film. (Strayed’s young daughter plays the child Cheryl with Strayed also having a cameo.)
Not all is gloomy and there are a couple laugh out loud scenes, including where Cheryl, packing her rucksack in a motel room prior to setting on the walk, tries numerous body contortions to lift her monstrously heavy pack off the floor.
Some experienced walkers may scoff at the way-too-heavy pack (frustratingly even an estimation of the weight is not given but it looks like it is over 30 kilos), the ill-fitting boots (causing much pain and loss of toenails) and packing the wrong stove fuel, but this misses the heart of an amazingly moving and inspirational film where the most important journey is not the miles covered on the trail.
Set in a stunning landscape (most filming was done in Oregon), the story is testament to the way walking in wilderness can be a healing and transformational experience.
Rated MA 15+ restricted (strong sex scenes and drug use).
In cinemas January 22.