The sleeper indie hit Mud was considered a pivot-point for Matthew McConaughey, who was transitioning away from mimbo roles into darker and more complex territory, like his subsequent Oscar-winning performance in Dallas Buyers Club. But Mud also featured another actor at a similar career crossroads: Reese Witherspoon.
In Wild, Witherspoon teams up with McConaughey’s Dallas director Jean-Marc Vallée and writer Nick Hornby to bring Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100-mile-hike memoir to the screen. It’s a savvy career move by the revitalized actress/producer after several years of mediocre choices (Four Christmases? How Do You Know?) that failed to take advantage of her 2006 Oscar win in Walk the Line.
Not unlike Into the Wild and 127 Hours, Wild is a journey into the unknown, both in nature and the human psyche. Cheryl embarks on her solo adventure after her mother (Laura Dern) died, and her grief had sent her on a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior that cost her her marriage. She heads off into the wilderness, completely naive and unprepared for the physical hardships that await, as well as the danger that lurks with every human—mostly male—encounter. “Witherspoon ditches her sunny persona before she laces up her first mountain boot and plays Cheryl with real grit, drawing you in from the opening scene, in which she rips off a battered toenail,” writes EW’s Tina Jordan. “There’s been much talk recently of the 2014 Reese-aissance; Wild is all the proof you need that Witherspoon has indeed found creative rejuvenation.”
Read more from EW’s review, as well as a roundup of other notable critics, below. READ FULL STORY