Yesterday evening, I went to see the film, Wild. I didn't have high expectations - it looked fun in a Hollywood one-woman-against-the-elements kind of way. A road movie on foot, lots of lows, some highs, a little introspection, a journey of self-discovery, a coming-of-age. And, of course, it was all those things. It was funny, it was sad, it was beautiful, it felt very real, which is good because it's a true story. What I didn't expect was how much the back story of this deeply troubled, desperately destructive woman would upset me. Tears were shed. I had to bite my lip to stop them. Like me, she lost her mother to cancer when she was in her early twenties. It was a brutal and quick death. Her mother is the most important person in her life - I felt the same about mine. She is completely undone by her loss, in an entirely different way to me, but there were definite echoes of the emptiness I experienced. And then there was something about the fun-loving, free-spirited, horse-riding, fate-accepting beauty of her mother that made it all just too close.
I found a quotation from Cheryl Strayed's book, on which the the film was based. It makes sense to me:
"I didn’t get to grow up and pull away from her and bitch about her
with my friends and confront her about the things I’d wished she’d done
differently and then get older and understand that she had done the best
she could and realize that what she had done was pretty damn good and
take her fully back into my arms again. Her death had obliterated that.
It had obliterated me. It had cut me short at the very height of my
youthful arrogance. It had forced me to instantly grow up and forgive
her every motherly fault at the same time that it kept me forever a
child, my life both ended and begun in that premature place where we’d
left off. She was my mother, but I was motherless. I was trapped by her,
but utterly alone. She would always be the empty bowl that no one could
full. I’d have to fill it myself again and again and again."
It wasn't a perfect movie. The end was a little too heavy-handed for me. I prefer some unanswered questions, a touch of mystery surrounding the future, a few less words, and a little more subtlety. But I liked it, and I think it's good to be taken off guard sometimes; to have a cry and remember the sad things we mostly manage to push to one side.