The Wild Movie Stars Reese Witherspoon, Looks Nearly as Moving as the Book

Slate's Culture Blog
July 10 2014 4:41 PM

The Wild Movie Stars Reese Witherspoon, Looks Nearly as Moving as the Book

wild
Reese Witherspoon stars in the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's wildly popular memoir, Wild.

Still from YouTube

Maybe it’s because I read the book after experiencing a loss like the one Cheryl Strayed went through herself, but the trailer for the movie adaptation of her 2012 memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, gave me goosebumps. The book, about the then-twentysomething Strayed’s solo hike of said trail in the wake of her mother’s death and the dissolution of her marriage, was a New York Times best-seller and an Oprah’s Book Club selection. And with good reason: It’s one of the most honest accounts of grief I can think of, a totally un-sugarcoated depiction of that time in Strayed’s life when “God was a ruthless bitch.”

The trailer has an au natural Reese Witherspoon fording rivers, screaming from a mountaintop, and, in the absence of human contact, attempting to befriend a fox. While this is a tale of the triumph of the human spirit, it’s far from saccharine: The bumpy path to emotional fulfillment includes random sex, heroin abuse, and the sheer brutality of the Sierra Nevada. And however successfully this walk in the woods helps to mend Strayed’s broken spirit, it cannot (spoiler alert) bring anyone back from the dead.

Advertisement

The line-up for the film is promising: It was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club), adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity), and features Laura Dern as Strayed’s mother. With those people involved, I'm hopeful that Strayed’s story will sustain its emotional power on the big screen. Fans of the book who can’t wait for the film’s Dec. 5 release should read Strayed’s moving essay on love and loss in the Sun and her foul-mouthed, tough-love advice column at the Rumpus, “Dear Sugar.”

Eliza Berman is an intern in the culture department at Slate.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 22 2014 9:39 AM Adrian Peterson Has a Terrible Contract, and Cutting Him Would Save the Vikings a Lot of Money
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 22 2014 9:12 AM What Is This Singaporean Road Sign Trying to Tell Us?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Science
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 7:47 AM Predicting the Future for the U.S. Government The strange but satisfying work of creating the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 5:30 AM MAVEN Arrives at Mars
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.