In this clip from Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir about backpacking alone for 1100 miles to overcome personal grief (and drug addiction!), Reese Witherspoon plays the lead character, an out-of-breath, tiny and brave soul who happens upon a camp of dudes and can only think of drinking a damn Snapple lemonade. (That sugar craving might be an allusion to the heroin, no?)
We're unaccustomed to seeing Witherspoon like this, so reliant on her gaunt physicality rather than just her wits (and, you know, not wearing make-up and carrying a hundred-pound hiking kit). I kind of hate nature if it doesn't involve a beach, but this clip piques my interest for Wild, and the idea of focusing on a woman's solitude in nature. So many films are made about men tackling the great unknown and end up lionizing their subjects, even if they croak (Into the Wild) or otherwise fall victim to it (127 Hours, ugh). But rare is the marquee film that allows its women subjects to revel in their aloneness, and to commune with the earth (or whatever) and, most importantly, finding themselves, the propeller at the heart of Wild.
Wild, due out Dec. 5 and directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club), is a project Reese Witherspoon is clearly passionate about: she's producing as well as starring. As the next film from her new company, Pacific Standard, it's intrinsic to the mission: her goal is to produce films with women at their center, seeking stories that don't reduce us to stereotypes. (Pacific Standard also did Gone Girl, and will release Don't Mess With Texas, starring Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, next year.)
In her October Vogue cover story, she discussed the paucity of roles she was finding interesting for an actor of her age and caliber. Author Tom Shone writes, "Partly this had to do with a film industry more attuned to fashioning entertainment for teenage boys than roles for 30-something actresses, even Oscar-winning ones." Witherspoon's reasoning for Pacific Standard's mission: "When people underestimate me, it's actually a comfortable place for me. 'Oh, that's what you think I am; well, no, I'm not.' I'm a complex human being. I have many different shades." In Wild's clip and trailer, it's compelling to see her acting them out.