I pretty much like any backpacking movie so I may not be the best judge to rely on, but Rotten Tomatoes is giving Reese Witherspoon's Wild a 89% rating. Given that the subject matter is not going to excite the masses these are pretty high marks. As a fan of Witherspoon's memorable performance in Walk the Line, I'm really hopeful. Some critics have already made this comparison so we could be in store for a Best Actress caliber performance.
I think drama lovers will love Strayed's intense personal backstory. But outfitters like me are going to be vicariously enjoying the challenges of a PCT thru-hike. Although she only finished 1100 miles, many thru-hikers have had the same fate of needing to bypass the wintery conditions of the High Sierra in high snow pack years. Cheryl Strayed definitely shows us that it doesn't take a ton of preparation--or even the right gear--to step off and live big. A movie like this has the potential to inspire more folks to find solace in prolonged outdoors adventures to our country's great wild places.
I really want to compare Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild to Strayed/Witherspoon's Wild, but I'll save that for a later review. (Or maybe wait at least until I see what Witherspoon has in store.) The obvious difference is that Chris McCandless' battles with his personal demons ultimately led to his tragic death in the wilderness of Alaska. Strayed's story of torment leads to personal triumph and an impressive achievement.