It's just about time to get "Wild."
The movie, which Reese Witherspoon both produced and stars in, is based on the bestselling memoir by Cheryl Strayed, detailing her life-changing trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, a path that stretches from the California-Mexico border all the way up to the Pacific Northwest. The impetus for the trip: the death of Strayed's mother, which prompted a spiral in her personal life, leaving her divorced, drugged and a bit worse for wear.
It's her big chance to get it all together. Will the tests of nature help Strayed heal, or will she ultimately be beaten by the natural world? (Spoiler alert: it's a true story penned by Strayed, so you can guess how that turns out.)
"Wild" has also climbed its way into the stratosphere of the awards season conversation, with mentions of possible acting nods for Witherspoon and co-star Laura Dern, and maybe even a chance of a Best Picture nomination.
Before you see "Wild," here are six things you should know.
1. Not a hiker? Don't worry, it's still relevant.
You might be thinking, "Oh, MTV, I'm not a nature person. What's in this for me?" The answer: plenty. The film seemed especially resonant considering the recent conversation around women and street harassment: every stranger that Cheryl encounters, as a woman alone on the trail, wants something from her and makes assumptions about her. Some good, some not so good.
2. Things get a little graphic.
If you're squicked by needles or blisters or pus-oozing toenails and their inevitable separation from the body, be prepared to cover your eyes a few times. Nature is kind of gross, and "Wild" doesn't flinch away from that. (But you might.)
3. Laura Dern is an unsung hero of the movie.
As those familiar with the book already know, Cheryl realizes her life has spun out of control since the death of her mother, played by Dern. In an attempt to get back on the right path, she literally takes to a path. It would seem that there wouldn't be a lot of juicy scenes for a character that is alive only in flashbacks -- and those parts are touching and memorable -- but the best parts of Dern's performance come when she appears as a specter on Cheryl's hike. It sounds like it could be cheesy -- it's not. You'll see.
4. It'll make you want to visit the Pacific Northwest.
There's no denying the film is absolutely gorgeous. Mountain passes, wide fields, trees, trees, trees. Get ready to book a ticket.
5. It may be confusing at first, but you'll get there.
The film is told non-linearly, and if you haven't read the book, it would be easy to be all, "Hey, why is Reese Witherspoon having sex with that rando? Why are Laura Dern's arms like that? What's going on?" Fear not. It also can get confusing since Witherspoon is playing herself as both a younger woman and older (Strayed was 26 when she set out on her hike, while Witherspoon is in her late thirties), the only indicator at times being a slight change in hairstyle. The imagery is vague to begin with, but by the midpoint of the movie, it'll all come together for a clearer picture.
6. You'll want to read the book.
Though reading Strayed's memoir before watching the movie isn't necessary -- you'll enjoy it either way -- you should pick it up after. There's so much that can't quite translate to the film, like Strayed's lyrical descriptions of her frustration and hopelessness in the face of her mother's quick decline. There's a reason it was a bestseller, and not because anyone can call a cathartic tale of a woman's struggle and eventual triumph against the natural world -- and her own emotional pain -- a guilty pleasure.
"Wild" hikes into theaters December 5.