Film Reviews

THE WALK

By • Oct 25th, 2015 •

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French is a sexy language; English spoken with a French accent…not so lyrical. The frenzied pace makes Gordon-Levitt sound like Pepe Le Pew. The lack of strategy diminishes the story but the special effects are dazzling.

Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) talks directly to us from the top of the Statue of Liberty. He’s manic and can barely contain himself. He tells us the story – through flashbacks – of his daring historic walk across the Twin Towers of New York City in 1974.

I walked out of THE WALK knowing I could suffer from vertigo. I wisely backed out of going down into the Great Pyramid of Giza (they laugh while giving your ticket money back) and experienced claustrophobia walking through the underground city of Cappadocia, Turkey. Extreme dread and irrational panic suddenly overtook me, worsening since I knew that I was about 20 winding minutes away from exiting.

Screaming “I’ve got to get out of here right now!” doesn’t help. You have to explain yourself in a logical, calm manner.

THE WALK is your chance to test whether or not you would suffer from vertigo.

Philippe and his dedicated crew spent years working out the logistics and the financing. But no one thought about filming it!

Why?

I don’t know about you, but I believe there is a “Zapruder” under someone’s bed showing the first plane – American Airlines Flight 11 – crash into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Like I said, the French accent is the problem. If only Gordon-Levitt had spoken all his lines in French and kept his own hair! Director Robert Zemeckis and co-writer Christopher Browne should have kept Philippe’s dialogue to a minimum. Phillippe is so hyper that speaking would have taken up too much of his time. A few subtitles and the audience would not be focused so intently on the French accent.

If only Philippe Petit was British. We love to hear the “received pronunciation” of the powerful and rich upper-class.

This is a movie about The Walk and that is where all the concentration of effort took place. Gordon-Levitt trained with Petit, so he was busy. It looks like all Zemeckis had to do was say by way of direction, “Faster, everybody. Say it faster.” You can tell the actors were on their own by Sir Ben Kingsley’s ham-fisted Czech circus performer Rudy Omankowsky, who helped train Petit.

Charlotte Le Bon, who plays Philippe’s French girlfriend, Anne, is not given much to do except support Petit. Even Le Bon, a former model – she’s tall and very, very thin with bad teeth, looks terrible in 1970’s clothes. Indeed, everyone looks awful, as exemplified by Petit’s cohorts.

While running around New York getting their rigs made, it appears as if Petit did not concern himself with weather patterns, swaying of the high towers, rain on the wire or any other scientific problems that would be crucial to his never-before-executed walk. Instead of renting a film camera to memorialize his feat, Petit worried about his lucky turtleneck.

Gordon-Levitt achieves the near-impossible in portraying Petit. Petit is, without question, a narcissist who demands from his satellites complete subservience to his one-man goal. Gordon-Levitt makes him likeable. He’s more zealot than arrogant bully.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m so rooted in today’s culture that unless it’s filmed, did it really happen? However, this question looms over Petit’s walk for me.

While Gordon-Levitt and Le Bon have zero chemistry, and why she left her newly-minted star boyfriend is hastily dismissed, Gordon-Levitt gives THE WALK a heart and soul. Frankly, I love everything he does (INCEPTION, SIN CITY: TO DIE FOR, DON JON, and everyone’s favorite, LOOPER). Gordon-Levitt should write and direct another film.

As you have read, THE WALK delivers the goods. Special effects and digital magic actually put the viewer on the wire with Petit. And, shockingly, Petit does not just walk across the two towers. He dances, he prances, he lays down! He spent the entire morning going back and forth. Nothing seemed to bother him, not the crowds, not the police and not his friends perched on either side shaking the wire. He made it look too easy.

Movies have taken a turn with THE WALK. What will SPECTRE do to dazzle audiences after THE WALK? Can STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS top this – You are There on the Wire – spectacle?

This is one movie that is worth the IMAX ticket price.

Member of Boadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society:www.lvfcs.org

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at masauu@aol.com.

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