Reese Witherspoon gets great reviews in WILD — Oscar nomination?

wild-reese-witherspoonReese Witherspoon has received rave reviews for her performance in WILD, her new film which has premiered at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals in the last two weeks. Adam Chitwood (Collider) gushes about “a truly fearless lead performance by Reese Witherspoon.” He credits the actress with raising the film above the limitations of the true life story genre: “The heart of the film is Reese Witherspoon’s bold and ultimately moving performance as Cheryl.  There are so few genuinely strong, complex female characters onscreen these days that I kept waiting to see this three-dimensional female character fall into the tired tropes that plague most films.  Witherspoon does a tremendous job of fleshing out Strayed with layers of strength, vulnerability, intelligence, and emotion.” Further, Chitwood wishes more films could deliver the level of characterization and performance that Reese gives in WILD. He continues, “Strayed is never portrayed as helplessly weak or in-need-of-a-man, nor is she shown as the stereotypical (and mostly fictional) man-hating Feminist with a capital F.  She’s a real character first and foremost, and that means there are times when she’s the strongest person in the room, and there are times when she feels compelled to ask for help.  This is a real woman, not some fictional fantasy of a woman, and it’s a shame that this kind of character is such a rarity in modern American cinema.” He concludes “I cannot stress enough how refreshing and delightful it was to spend two hours with a well-rounded female character such as this.”

wild_xlgChitwood is not alone in his enthusiasm. Kate Erbland (at Film School Rejects) calls Witherspoon’s performance “natural and winning” as well as “fine and unfussy.” Mara Reinstein (US Weekly) says “Reese Witherspoon — who, face it, hasn’t had a meaty role since 2005’s Walk the Line — is poised for a mini-comeback (and possible Oscar consideration) with her strong, vanity-free turn.” Tim Robey (The Telegraph) goes further, stating that “this is a major comeback…WILD provides a huge, dappled range of emotional tones for this perky-pugnacious star to explore…It’s her best, more natural, most appealing performance in years, because it’s different, but also because it reminds us why we immediately liked her when she first strode onto the scene…It’s so great to have her back.”

Witherspoon finds both a mature centeredness and a zen-like openness” writes Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair) “—it’s been a long time since we’ve seen her this fluidly expressive, this connected to good material.” Stephen Farber (Hollywood Reporter) agrees: “Witherspoon captures all the conflicting, dizzying emotions that the adventure stirs in her.” Farber also sees a possible Oscar, and adds praise for Laura Dern’s work as Witherspoon’s mother. Director Jean Marc Vallee, who helped Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to Oscar wins with Dallas Buyer’s Club last year, may deliver statues to his stars for a second year in a row. Says Farber: “Dallas Buyers Club earned Oscars for both its lead and supporting actors, and it’s conceivable that the new film could repeat the trick for two actresses.” Chitwood notes Vallée’s “confident, dynamic direction” as well, and says that “WILD turns out to be an honest, surprising, and unabashedly feminist chronicle of determination and rebirth. ”

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