Born to Be #Wild: Reese Witherspoon Delivers Her Most Solid Performance To Date

Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed in “Wild”

As a member of SAG-AFTRA, one of its perks, turns out to be one of the most difficult responsibilities–voting for the SAG Awards.  This year offers many stellar performances. It also seems to be the year where some of the female leads go makeup-free with Jennifer Aniston in Cake and Reese Witherspoon in Wild. Yet, it’s more than just the lack of makeup which makes Witherspoon’s performance her best in years. It’s the fact that she was able to truly immerse herself in author/hiker Cheryl Strayed’s life that makes it impressive. Reese Witherspoon won an Oscar for playing another true character, June Carter Cash. To be honest, I would not be surprised if she takes home another statuette for her work on Wild due to the fact that she gives a much better performance than she did in Walk the Line.

Cheryl Strayed’s life is a complex one. Not only was she dealing with a broken marriage, drug problem, and death of her mother to cancer, but she managed to do  a 1100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 after all of those things happened. So, it seems like one challenge begets another. The movie makes use of present-day (1995) events and various flashbacks throughout Cheryl’s upbringing by a single-mother (played by Laura Dern). The thing that makes Witherspoon so good in this is that she seems to be more vulnerable than she has been in past films. She gives an emotional depth to Cheryl as she portrays her from her early to late twenties. Her vocal quality is also different from her previous work as well. She said in an interview that she has “no funny voices or accents” in Wild. It serves her and the movie well. We truly see what Reese Witherspoon is capable of as a performer. The role was both physically (she carries Cheryl’s 65 pound backpack nicknamed “Monster” throughout) and emotionally demanding and she weaves everything together in this dynamic role.

Here’s a fun fact, Cheryl Strayed’s daughter, Bobbi Strayed Lindstrom plays Young Cheryl in the movie.

Wild is currently in theaters.

The Many Sides of Amy Dunne: Rosamund Pike in #GoneGirl

Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne in 2014’s “Gone Girl” directed by David Fincher.

When you’re the daughter of two opera singers, and spent your childhood observing your parents onstage in classic melodramatic fair, it’s safe to assume that you know how drama and suspense work. Actress Rosamund Pike is the aforementioned daughter of two opera singers, and it seems as if her flair for the dramatic has helped her with her latest project, Gone Girl. Adapted from Gillian Flynn’s  best-selling 2012 novel of the same name, the movie is just as suspenseful as the book. Not only that, but Pike’s performance as the complex Amy Dunne is astonishing to watch. Nominated this year for both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role, Rosamund Pike gives a performance few actors would be able to achieve. Amy’s nuances and complexities are accompanied by the fact that viewers never really know which aspects of her personality are truthful. British-born Pike, plays New York native, and Missouri transplant Amy Dunne to a tee. Without giving away major plot points, I will say, that she plays all the layers so perfectly that for the time being, it’s hard for me to not vote for her for the SAG Awards. She legitimately plays an honest-to-goodness sociopath, and it’s fascinating to watch her transformation. Director David Fincher has always been one of my favorites, and he doesn’t disappoint. However, with both Flynn’s novel and her screenplay (which she adapted herself), I will ask her this: What’s up with that ending? 

Want to know more? Gone Girl is currently available On Demand, Amazon Prime, and also stars Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris. Gillian Flynn’s novel is available both online, and at your local bookstore.