Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Philippe Petit
Charlotte Le Bon – Annie
Ben Kingsley – Papa Rudy
Joseph does a fantastic job of portraying Philippe Petit. I’m no big fan of the buff Hollywood actor, but from an acting point of view he is incredibly convincing. And it’s mainly in his voice; he maintains a deep, solid French accent throughout the movie which sounds as though he’s actually a typical French citizen (or in simple terms – that classic ‘haw-he-haaw’-ness). Performance wise, I’ve no complaints – the actor is consistent from opening scene to end credits and brings an effective storyteller quality to screen as he divulges the character’s background.
Standing atop the torch of the Statue of Liberty, Philippe goes into his background. Talks about his childhood. His education. His first encounter with a tightrope at a circus..
It’s a whole lot of history as the man describing his passion and how it took form takes up about sixty-five minutes. It’s lengthy – but it’s not boring. Fortunately, Gordon-Levitt is very animated throughout and his dynamics ensure an entertaining narrative. Which is a good thing because without his comical use of vocals and hand gestures, I reckon the first hour of The Walk would have been boring as hell. These scenes move at a good pace, and with humour. Not bad.
But we (audience members) all knew why we were there.
There was only one main event we came to see.
And one that I was highly anticipating..
The scene where Philippe walks between the towers of the World Trade Centre was nothing short of fantastic.
I honestly didn’t expect it to be as entertaining or, at certain moments, as tense as it was. I assumed the movie would be a load of build-up and hype, then finish quickly with the man walking across across his wire in true “ta-da!” style. But on the contrary, it felt like the movie was only just beginning..
There is an obvious pause before Philippe takes his first step, then he performs his stunt. He reaches the south tower with some truly edgy moments and then returns to the north tower.
I sat there, eyes on the screen with the classic, “is that it?” reaction. The man had done his walk, was that literally it?
..it was not.
Back he goes again, this time throwing in a few tricks – one of which being an action that had me nicely on edge. During this scene I was wide-eyed and biting my nails; the producers did a superb job of ensuring Gordon-Levitt delivered a high-tensity performance whilst engulfing him in quality visuals.
But a word of warning to those viewers who are afraid of heights or genuinely suffer from vertigo: don’t look. Better still, just don’t go see The Walk. The views around Philippe – be they special effects or not – are dizzying, involving bird’s-eye views of the towers from even higher above, and glances of the streets below. But the best element has to be ‘the big smoke’. Smoke starts rising up around the wire, creating a dream-like atmosphere with him in the middle holding his balancing rod. It’s almost as though he’s waking on blue and pink-tinged clouds. These effects added nicely to the stunt, I wasn’t expecting it at all.
The most enjoyable element of the walk itself was the surprise; the things the man did before and during the stunt. And laying down on his back just had me wriggling in my seat.
Not as much as the woman next to me though. A few seats along in the cinema a lady was sat near me – squirming and clearly vocalising her unease at the scene unfolding on screen. Another lady sat in front of us was laughing. And a few others also commented out loud. So let’s face it, if this movie evoked such reactions it must have been doing something right.
Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven begins playing during Philippe’s pivotal moment on the wire, with the camera panning in. It’s a pretty lovely moment, again, something that took me by surprise – especially blending danger with tranquility.
I didn’t expect The Walk to give me shivers – but it did. A slight queasy feeling too as the main even took place.
I also didn’t expect the walk itself to be as entertaining, emotional and as colourful as it was.
Producer Tom Rothman and director Robert Zemeckis smashed it out of the park with this one – and all for a man walking across a wire. This movie delivers some visually entertaining moments whilst blending them with human emotion; the powerful looks in his eyes as a helicopter almost sends him off the wire, his passion to complete the stunt, etc. is all portrayed nicely by Gordon-Levitt. The actor did good – a flawless performance.
Sometimes, a movie centred around an incredibly simple concept or feat can really surprise people. It can engage the viewer and evoke all sorts of reactions; laughing, crying, nervousness, excitement.
The Walk is one of those movies (especially going by the reaction of the audience I was watching it with).
Its story is easy to follow. The performances are effective. And the scene where Philippe walks between the towers is like a little movie of its own when various characters start making appearances, special effects remaining a solid base.
The downside to the ending was that there was no genuine footage / photographs of Philippe Petit. I wanted this. To catch a glimpse of the brilliant man who entertained millions – without the use of Google. A bit of interview or stills wouldn’t have gone amiss.
And of course, him.
The stranger who appears at the top of the tower just as Philippe finishes securing the wire.
The distant look on his face, his glazed eyes..
Who is he?
What is he thinking?