A stylish, expedient cinematic implement, montages are typically overused and often poorly executed. The most common of montages are time-action sequences, simply a collection of artless clips cut together with a blaring pop song of a strong synthesising beat, masking all dialogue and used only to signify time progression. But in Wild, we find the rare composition of a film constructed as a montage itself, a fluid presentation of events, of reality, intercepted by the contents of our minds. And the result is spectacular. Flashbacks are cut together roughly with only their remembered, natural sounds, the noises of that atmosphere and those words and that rain. Chronology is all but abandoned, the film a colour-lit mosaic of nightmares, memories, motivations, events and actual thoughts, so by seeing into her convoluted mind, we can best understand all that is Cheryl Strayed. This is deeply personal cinema: you will soar with her triumphs and suffer through her losses. Spirited and moving, but never cloyingly sentimental, Wild is a visual, fervent feast and a dark mediation of life's heaviest, most potent moments.
Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) is a woman built on the unwavering, ever-present love and strength of her mother, Bobbi Grey (Laura Dern). So when Strayed's mother is lost abruptly to a short fight with cancer, chaos transpires. Once an intellectual, vibrant woman Strayed succumbs to short-term pain relief. She grips onto anything, whether it be drugs or meaningless sex, that will allow her to forget, to dream, to live subconsciously, to never experience the full punch of life. Devout of hope, her marriage dismantled, Strayed embarks on a 1000-mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in a bid to "walk herself back to the woman her mother thought she was", alone, with no experience but every intention to have this physical struggle bring an end to her mental one.