‘Wild’ director Jean-Marc Vallée related to Cheryl Strayed’s story in a very personal way

TELLURIDE – When Fox Searchlight's “Wild” landed Friday afternoon in Telluride, the Oscar fuse was instantly lit for star and producer Reese Witherspoon. But as our own Greg Ellwood noted in his review, after last year's “Dallas Buyers Club,” director Jean-Marc Vallée seems almost destined to again be the unsung hero of a film that leaves audiences talking about the power of its performances and the efficiency of its economy.

The most intriguing thing about the film to me was its structure, and that's what I wanted to get into with Vallée in particular when we spoke Saturday afternoon. A genre like this is so well-worn that there seems precious little originality left to be explored, but while Vallée doesn't blow the doors off its conventions, he makes the film more of an experience by playing with picture and sound in the editorial process (he edits his own films), making “Wild” a state of mind film in some sense. That goes a long way toward keeping things fresh.

You can read through our back and forth below. From here, “Wild” heads north of the border to the Toronto Film Festival next month before opening in theaters on Dec. 5.


HitFix: It's funny, when we were talking last year, I didn't even realize you were shooting this.

Jean-Marc Vallée: Oh, I didn't mention it?

No, but I'm not usually looking too far ahead when I'm in the middle of things. So when I got around to this year's stuff I was like, “Oh, damn, he's doing that, too.”

Yeah, and I'm shooting on September 15, man. The next one.

Do you like that, keeping them lined up?

It's just circumstances. These three films in a row. I think after this one I'm going to relax.

How does it feel being in the thick of a rush like that, though?

I feel great, man. I feel like I'm living the dream. I'm having a beautiful professional life. I'm enjoying it, meeting great actors and creators. I feel blessed.