A few days ago I was invited by AMC Theater to a complimentary screening of Wild. The film was described as one woman’s 1,100-mile journey to self-discovery, and it was based on the bestselling book by Cheryl Strayed. I decided to go because the story seemed unique and meaningful, and such stories are not easy to come by. I invited my friend to come along. She is not as enthusiastic about meaningful films, and asked, impishly, “Can we watch Dumb and Dumber instead?”
“No,” I said, knowing that she’s trying to say I watch boring films.
Within ten minutes of Wild, my friend and I were captured – captured by what the main character, Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) is trying to do by leaving everything behind to hike more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail all on her own. She is washing away past hurts of her own reckless behavior, a heroin addiction, a divorce, and her mother’s untimely death. She is healing and ultimately empowering herself.
The film had no car or rape chases, no one being shot at or shooting at someone, no child abuse, or physical fights. It had humor and real people. The suspense was in caring about this one woman’s journey, because we relate to this journey that most of us want to take – though not necessarily through a 1,100-mile hike.
When we left the theater, my friend admitted that she really liked this film, to which I thought, “Halleluiah.” I have finally converted her. I noticed a man standing with a pen and paper asking for our views to submit to the studio. People told him they liked the film, that it was touching and interesting. I said to him, “The film reminds me of the foreign films I used to watch (especially the French), where stories were saturated with feelings and meanings.”
At home, I did a little research on Wild and discovered that it was directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, a Canadian film director from Quebec. Still, it was made by an American studio, and will have a theatrical release on December 5th, and not just in independent theaters.
Years ago, a successful screenwriter said in a lecture that Hollywood executives told him, “Don’t have a message. People don’t like to think.”
Either these executives were totally wrong, or times are changing – thank God.