Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Wild” Starring Reese Witherspoon
The following excepts provide the basic lines of the plot and role of the soundtrack:
In the summer of 1995, 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed decided to walk the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail by herself without having ever having attempted a serious hike in her life. Following the death of her mother and after years of dissolute self-destructive behavior, Strayed found herself divorced, alone, lost and on a frayed edge of personal despair. Desperately trying to find her humanity and reclaim an her ideal self, she impulsively set out, ill-equipped and inexperienced, to find herself on an unpredictable and grueling odyssey from the Mojave desert through California to Oregon over the course of over 150 days. (Excerpted from Telluride Review: Jean-Marc Vallée’s ‘Wild’ Starring Reese Witherspoon By Rodrigo Perez. The Playlist August 30, 2014)
Most of the music is only used in the film’s various flashbacks. “I didn’t want to give the audience this impression of ‘film watching,'” Vallee said in a statement. “That’s often how I feel with score music. I become aware of it, aware that I’m watching a film, that someone is playing music that the characters don’t hear. When there is music, it’s because it’s playing in the scene from a sound device, a car radio for instance, or a CD player. What [Reese’s character Cheryl] is listening to in her life is the music that we hear during the film.” (Excerpted from ‘Wild’ Soundtrack Feature Bruce Springsteen, Portishead, Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams & More By Edward Davis. The Playlist: October 23, 2014)
This excerpt from Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne has deep connection to Reese Witherspoon drama Wild by Linda Barnard (The Star: Dec 5, 2014) offers the story about Suzanne Verdal’s link to the movie as well as a photo of Suzanne Verdal taken circa 1977:1
Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée is scrolling through photos on his phone, stopping at an image of a young girl and a pretty, dark-haired woman, smiling for the camera.
“You’re the first one that I’m showing that to,” said the Montreal-born director of Dallas Buyers Club and Café de Flore.
We’d been talking on an early September afternoon about why he wanted to include Leonard Cohen’s melancholy and romantic song “Suzanne” in the drama Wild, which had screened the day before at the Toronto International Film Festival and opens in theatres Dec. 5.
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Wild is based on Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir about her relationship with her late mother, Bobbi (Laura Dern) and her decision to repair her broken life by hiking more than 1,700 km on the punishing Pacific Crest Trail.
“There’s a personal thing about this song,” Vallée explains of the haunting “Suzanne.” He wanted the Wild soundtrack to include music Bobbi would have played in the ’70s when her kids were young, letting the songs weave through Cheryl’s mind, often becoming a memory of her mother as she made her trek.
“I have a thing for history, I love this song so much, I’m from Montreal; Leonard Cohen is from Montreal,” said the soft-spoken Vallée.
The young blond girl in the image is Strayed, then known as Cheryl Nyland, at about age 10. And the beautiful brunette woman is Suzanne Verdal, the Suzanne who inspired Cohen’s song.
Vallée [Director of “Wild”] was flabbergasted to learn Verdal and Bobbi were friends when he approached Strayed to talk about Wild’s soundtrack, wanting to include “Suzanne” along with songs by Bruce Springsteen, Simon & Garfunkel and Lucinda Williams among others.
“She goes, ‘Oh I knew Suzanne! I met Suzanne! She was friends with my mom!’ ” said Vallée.
Note: Originally posted Dec 23, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
- Thanks to Jane Cartmill, who sent me a link to this article [↩]