Wild

Focus Features

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival boasted dozens upon dozens of films to sate the cinema-hungry masses, and we’re willing to bet that we saw…well, at least a hearty fraction of them. The festival has just wrapped up, and as we all attempt to recover from ten-plus days of universally excellent film-going, it only seems appropriate to revisit our favorite films of the festival. These are the titles that stuck with us, the ones we recommended to anyone who would listen, the ones we couldn’t quite shake, a big mix of the funny and the fantastic, the sad and the silly, the wild and the weird. Are these the best films of TIFF? We certainly think so.

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Reese With Her Spoon Going Wild

“Strayed” isn’t really Cheryl Strayed’s last name. The author and subject of “Wild” was originally born Cheryl Nyland, and eventually decided to change her surname after years of pain and a particularly wrenching divorce – and, if the movie adaptation of her novel is to believed, it was literally plucked out of the dictionary after careful consideration – into something that echoed, well, how she had strayed from her path, and possibly her wish to get back on track. When we first meet Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) in Jean-Marc Vallee’s lovingly crafted Wild, she’s bloody and bruised and gasping, perched high atop a mountain, desperately pulling off her too-tight hiking boots to reveal a blood-soaked sock and a big toe that’s in bad shape. Terrified and alone, Cheryl yanks loose a cracked toenail, practically spits in pain and jostles loose a single boot, which tumbles down the rocky incline, never to be seen again. Cheryl’s next move is perhaps a bad one: she stands, screams and chucks her other boot after it. How do you get back on track after that? You stand and you yell and you chuck your other boot. And then you keep walking.

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Reese With Her Spoon Going Wild

There comes a time in every woman’s life where she has to face a couple forks in the road. When her life is going completely to hell and there’s really nothing that can remedy the situation. Is this the time to give up and curl into the fetal position indefinitely? Or does she gather up a fat stack of Oprah magazines and take life by the steering wheel, setting forth some impossible self-help journey to cleanse her system of whatever’s bringing her down? Girlfriend, you know the answer. The first trailer for Wild, the Nick Hornby-scripted adaptation of the wildly popular memoir by Cheryl Strayed, gets a few things clear straight off the bat. The source material for the film contains much darker depths than we’re used to seeing from the “find yourself” genre. One of the main reasons for Cheryl setting out on her journey is to cope with her former heroin addiction, and it’s clear from flashbacks peppered into the trailer that while the habit might be kicked, the emotional toll may still be present. It’s a stark contrast to Eat, Pray Love, where Elizabeth was dissatisfied with a mostly okay life and went on an extended vacation to canoodle with handsome dudes, or even something like How Stella Got Her Groove Back, where Stella … gets her groove back … directly via Taye Diggs on vacation. The other point is that Reese Witherspoon‘s hair after weeks on the Pacific Crest is much better than mine looks after sitting at a desk writing all day.

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Reese small

If anyone has seen Legally Blonde or Sweet Home Alabama one of the approximately 700,000 times they have played on daytime TV during the past decade, you would know two things to be true: that Reese Witherspoon is the queen of romantic comedies, and that the woman is a spitfire. Save for the unspeakable This Means War, she’s left the ro-mcom genre alone for a few years, choosing instead to exercise those dramatic acting chops that got her the Best Actress Oscar in 2005 for Walk the Line. Currently, she’s doing just that by filming Jean-Marc Vallée‘s Wild, the adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by Cheryl Strayed. Wild tells Strayed’s personal tale of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches more than 1000 miles of the Pacific Coast, by herself after her life spins out of control. She has some things to work out, okay? Witherspoon recently tweeted the first look at herself as Strayed, in her hiking getup “on set” in Oregon. Looking a little bedraggled and saddled with gear, it’s different from what we’re used to seeing from the usually glamorous star. And that’s potentially a good thing – gritty gets the gold.

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While most movie-going audiences familiar with author Nick Hornby know him best for seeing his own written works turned into films (like High Fidelity, Fever Pitch, and About a Boy), the writer has recently begun adapting other authors’ books into screenplays. We know, it’s a bit complicated. Hornby notably penned the screenplay for An Education, based on Lynn Barber’s memoir, and recently finished the script for Brooklyn, which is based on a Colm Toibin novel. Next up, Hornby will adapt another memoir for the big screen, turning his talents to Cheryl Strayed‘s “Wild,” a tome that Strayed wrote about her soul-saving 1,100-mile solo hike up the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese Witherspoon‘s production company, Pacific Standard, will produce the project, and Witherspoon is also expected to star. Witherspoon also personally drafted Hornby for the film, telling Deadline that “Nick’s innate blend of humanity and humor are a perfect match for Cheryl’s raw emotional memoir.” Hornby was just as filled as praise, commenting that he “loved Cheryl Strayed’s memoir. It’s moving, funny, painful and brave, and the moment I’d finished it I wanted someone to let me have a go at adapting it, because it was clear to me that it could make a wonderful movie. I’m thrilled to be given the chance; the fact that this chance was given to me by Reese Witherspoon, a great actress who feels exactly the same way about the book as I do, makes this project all the more exciting.” What a lovefest! ComingSoon rustled up the book’s official […]

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
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published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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