Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club), "Wild" is the true story of Cheryl Strayed's (Reese Witherspoon) 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail on the West Coast of America. Born Nyland, she changed her name to Strayed when her life took a downward spiral after her mother’s (Laura Dern) death. Cheryl’s mother was everything to her and her loss led to Strayed becoming hooked on drugs and embarking on a series of extra matrimonial affairs, hence her reason for choosing Strayed as a last name.

Searching for some sort of redemption from the sins of her past, her journey over a three month period in the summer of 1995, from the Mojave Desert to the Oregon-Washington border, lets her reflect on her relationship with her dead mother and her estranged husband.

Strayed is no hard as nails woman who is well up for the task ahead, as it quickly becomes apparent as she slowly makes her way northwards, that she is underprepared for the quest that lies ahead of her, her enormous backpack, that has been christened "the monster" by a fellow hiker, weighs more than she does and in order to lift it she has to lie on her back like a turtle and then force herself up onto her feet. In her ruck sack she carries gas canisters that are the wrong type for the cooking stove that she has, forcing her to eat dried food, hefty novels by authors such as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and James A. Michener also weigh her down and it’s from these novels that she leaves quotes in the "guest book" at each checkpoint she comes across.

As she plods on slowly on her journey she encounters various dangers, and not all human, these include rattlesnakes, and putrefied water holes. However worse than the physical hardship, is the emotional hardship, seeing no one for days on end Strayed is often left with nothing but her thoughts for company.

Much like this year’s other woman on a trek film, "Tracks", "Wild" is about one woman's search for answers in the emptiness of nature. "Wild" is a wonderful piece of storytelling held together by a charismatic performance by Witherspoon. It's easy to forget how much of a talented and how wonderful an actress Witherspoon is and it's no surprise that she's been nominated for an Oscar for her role in "Wild". Recommended

Wild (15)

starring: Reese Witherspoon

UK Release: Friday 16th January 2015