Reese Witherspoon received her second Oscar nomination for playing Cheryl Strayed in Wild.
It absolutely surprises me to say this, but I loved Wild. It’s gorgeously shot, well-edited (in my opinion) and just so calming and healing to watch. I loved every aspect of it, and I would even have given it nominations for best picture and director. Yes, I loved it that much. Laura Dern was good, but like Patricia Arquette, I found myself wanting more from the performance. That being said, unlike Arquette, Dern has the disadvantage of shorter screen time so I’m a little more forgiving. Their performances are pretty similar though, and I can accept the nomination (such a weak line-up though!).
Reese Witherspoon is…not really my favourite actress. I don’t like her style as it usually comes across as forced and awkward, and no, it’s not good in a Diane Keaton way. Too often I get the impression from her movies that she’s trying really hard to suger-coat her on-screen persona, and I kinda feel the same way about her real life personality in interviews too. Let’s just say that whatever charm people saw in Walk The Line, Water for Elephants (MISCAST!) and Legally Blonde just flew past my head.
So I’ll just drop the bomb now: I loved her performance here. It’s crazy, considering how I came in with super low expectations, but came out super impressed. Like not just in a “hey, she’s better than usual” way. I don’t know what came over me, and it could be my overall affection for the film too, but I was engrossed in every single moment of her performance.
The awkwardness that’s usually present in Witherspoon’s performances is not present here, except for maybe the brief scene with the therapist, but what really impressed me was the layers and complexities behind the character that she presented on screen. I felt for Cheryl during every step of her hike: the fear (her eyes when confronted by the men), the vulnerability, the sadness, the depression. The character’s a real mess and I was surprised at how she did not choose to hide it at all, portraying her drug-addiction and promiscuity with brutal honesty. It’s clear to me that Witherspoon was highly passionate about this movie and character, and I felt like she really managed to dig deep into the character’s troubles.
She takes the viewers with her throughout the journey, and we can see Cheryl slowly letting go of the sadness that has been holding her down all these years. The flashbacks were also crucial in explaining how Cheryl became the person that she is, and she nails every one of those scenes.
You can call me crazy, but I just loved every moment of Reese Witherspoon’s wonderful performance in Wild. It’s powerful, beautiful and haunting to watch, and I’d even go as far to say that Wild is such a healing and great film to watch mainly because of her performance. 5/5.