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THE WALK (review)

Review by Caitlyn Thompson
Produced by Steve Starkey,Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke
Screenplay by Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne
Based on To Reach the Clouds by Philippe Petit
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley,
Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale,
Ben Schwartz, Steve Valentine

The Walk is based on the true story of Phillippe Petit, an ambitious young Frenchman whose ultimate wish is to walk on a wire between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

Not without it’s pitfalls, The Walk is an upbeat, jovial film about never giving up on your dreams. However, I, for the most part, wanted to give up on this production.

This film is not what I expected. From the trailer, my impression was that The Walk would be serious, dramatic, and of course, suspenseful. Jarred by the opening scene of Joseph Gordon-Levitt monologue-ing intensely at the audience, I was immediately uncomfortable.

Now, I like Levitt, but his French accent is jarring and unappealing. It reminds of a birthday-party performer, deliberately putting on an exaggerated voice to solely entertain children. And that’s what the first half hour reminded me of – a children’s movie.

But an overwhelming, Baz-Luhrmann-esque twisted carnival ride children’s movie. Levitt’s wig was also distracting. But details, details. The actor just didn’t fit the role in my eyes. He’s too familiar so I couldn’t get past his on-stage-like forced illustration of Phillippe Petit.

The first hour of The Walk moves very slowly as we watch Phillippe learn how to fine-tune is wire walking from the cantankerous expert known as “Papa Rudy” (Ben Kingsley), not without payment of course—this is supposed to add comedic value… While training, Phillippe also recruits “accomplices” to help execute his illegal plan—the Twin Towers are not finished and they have a finite amount of time to complete their mission.

I didn’t buy the chemistry between the characters.

Everyone seems rather flat. This may be due to Levitt’s overbearing character. But I think the main detachment comes from the distracting voice-over from Phillippe. He talks throughout the entire film from the top of the State of Liberty. It’s corny and distracting. The film doesn’t need the voice over. It’s an interesting story but the way in which it’s presented doesn’t feel natural.

That’s the first hour.

The second hour speeds up considerably. The team arrives in New York and the plan takes off. Spying, scheduling, practicing. There is movement, the comedic placement is more authentic, and the doofy clown-like presentations are greatly diminished.

Phillippe Petit’s madness in pursuing his dream is wild. But the presentation of this man’s feat is off. The Walk feels as though it’s geared towards children, but it’s not a child-like adventure. It’s dangerous and frightening—imagine being the accomplice, companion, or friend of a man whose ambition could end with a horrible death. The tone needed work, but thankfully, all’s well that ends well…I suppose.

The culmination is fun and exciting. If you don’t know the details of Petit’s walk, this part of the film great. I’d say power through the first hour, because the second half makes up for it just enough to be entertaining.

It’s definitely not a see-it-twice kind of film though.

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