A Wild Time at the Movies

Oops50 is happy to welcome a new contributor, Donna Molofsky.  Donna lives near Winston-Salem, NC with her husband Barry and dog Sally.  She is a former minister in the United Methodist church, but her life has taken many twists and turns since then.  One of her latest gigs was caring for her elderly mother who had dementia. Welcome, Donna, and thank you for this review of Wild!

Donna Molofsky
Donna Molofsky

Life makes you want to scream sometimes.

For therapy, is it better to scream or take a long hike?  Reese Witherspoon does both in the movie Wild, which is in theaters now.

She plays the role of Cheryl Strayed, a woman hiking the Pacific Coast Trail in an effort to exorcise some demons that are holding her back in life.  I immediately identified with this woman although our journeys are completely different.

For one thing, Cheryl is a woman in her twenties, and I am a few decades older.  She deals with the tragedies in her life by doing drugs, sleeping with strange men, and ruining her marriage – things I probably would not do.  But it is the nature of her life tragedies that makes this woman and her story so easy to understand.

Reese Witherspoon in "Wild"
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”

After growing up with an abusive father, Cheryl faces her mother’s death from cancer when her mother is only in her forties. Laura Dern plays the strong but fragile mom beautifully. Cheryl needed her mother more than ever, but suffered from crippling grief.  I have been working through some serious losses over the course of the last two or three years.  My mother died after a long struggle with dementia. Six months later a  close cousin committed suicide. Most recently, I lost a job that I cared about.  After these difficult times, I have had such a range of emotions – from sadness to disbelief to anger.

Witherspoon plays this role with such honesty.  At the start of her journey, she has no idea what she is doing.  Later, she exudes loneliness and suffocating fatigue.  Her burden is symbolized by the heaviness of her pack.  Some kind souls help lighten her load.  Some look and walk away.  All the while, she has to balance self-reliance with trust and asking for help when she does not want to .

As a viewer, I was so anxious for this character.  I so wanted her to make it, to reach her goal! But I was worried that she might be killed on the trail, assaulted, or bitten by a snake.  By the end of the movie, I was drained.

Witherspoon and Dern are both nominated for Academy Awards for this film.  I hope other women will get to experience this movie and scream at some of their own demons.

 

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