The Walk (2015)

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Film review by Claire Durrant of the true story about Philippe Petit. The tightrope walker who managed to walk across the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.

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Director: Robert Zemeckis. ImageMovers, Sony Pictures Entertainment, TriStar Productions.

4stars-Very good lots to enjoy 1

 

Cast and Credits

Producer: Jack Rapke, Tom Rothman, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis.
Writer: Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne.
Camera: Dariusz Wolski.
Music: Alan Silvestri.
Sets: Naomi Shohan.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, Clément Sibony, César Domboy, James Badge Dale, Steve Valentine.

Synopsis

As a child Petit (Gordon-Levitt) snuck in to a circus and watched tightrope walkers perform. Since then he always wanted to follow their path in to becoming a great performing artist. With the aid of experienced high-wire walker and mentor, Papa Rudy (Kingsley), Petit begins to look for his perfect walk. His prayers are answered when he finds an article about the newly finished twin towers. With his goal set, he begins to enlist a team of accomplices to help him complete his illegal and dangerous walk.

Review

Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a French accent? Sold! Sure it’s a little exaggerated, forced, and silly, but it’s not as cringe worthy as an ‘Irish’ Tom Cruise. Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system let me begin.

From the posters, the trailer and other advertisements, I assumed that the film was going to be a slow burner until the final big sequence, in the same way that the majority of Carrie (1976) is just a buildup to the famous Prom scene. The film begins with Petit standing on top of The Statue of Liberty addressing the audience and narrating his story. He takes us to where his story began: Paris. Straight away this film is charming and stylish, with Gordon-Levitt engaging as a street performer.

The portrayal of Petit is a fascinating one. Petit does not do these daring feats for fame or money, he does it for the feeling; the rush of emotions. He is likeable, rude, romantic, stubborn, arrogant, caring and borderline insane. Gordon-Levitt acts all these characteristics well. Sure, you can ask yourself why they didn’t just get a French actor to play Petit, but you can’t deny that Gordon-Levitt brings exuberance to the role. It is thoroughly entertaining to watch this man act. Gordon-Levitt is beginning to create quite the filmography for himself and he really is becoming an actor to watch out for.

As much as I do find Paris beautiful, the scenes set in France are the weakest moments in the film. The origin story, the lacklustre romantic plot line, it’s all mediocre compared to the big, grand scenes in New York. The film’s first and second act could be two completely different films; the first being set up for a romantic comedy, the second being a type of espionage and heist film. The latter act set in beautiful New York is so much more exhilarating to watch.

Of course the elephant in the room is that of the portrayal of the Twin Towers in regards to 9/11. Zemeckis could have easily made a reference to the destruction of the towers as an emotional ploy, but instead he remains respectful. He focuses more on the impressive and stunning beginning of the towers instead of the tragic ending of them to evoke emotions. It’s simple, but it’s so much more fitting to the story.

A problem I did have with the movie is that of Petit’s narration. In moderation it was a successful way to establish certain moments in the film, but at some points it became intrusive and unnecessary. A scene in which it was 100 percent not needed was that of the ending sequence. Petit has made it on to the rope, the camera pans down to demonstrate the height he is at, diegetic sounds have been reduced to Petit’s breath and the wind. That is until Petit’s narration begins. We don’t need Petit to tell us what he is feeling at that moment, the mise en scène had done that for us.

The final sequence in which Petit walks across the two towers is one of the most remarkable filmmaking of recent times. The cinematography and CGI is just mesmerising! In fact this is the first film since Gravity (2013) that I would recommend seeing in 3D. It was by accident that I saw this in 3D, and I am so glad that I did. You are captured up there on the wire with Petit at that moment, and the 3D really adds to that. This is evidently so, since it has been in the news that people suffering from vertigo are throwing up in the cinemas. But if anything this is just testament to Zemeckis’ ability to put us right in that moment. I don’t want to say much more about this scene, as all though this may seem like a cop out, I truly do believe that you must watch it for yourselves.

So if you’re willing to sit through ninety minutes of a still entertaining (Kingsley’s performance is a fun one to watch) but adequate origin story, which again, is not a tedious thing to watch, you will be rewarded with that breathtaking final walk that demonstrates why filmmaking can be so important and impressive. Don’t miss this one on the big screen!

ing of recent times. The cinematography and CGI is just mesmerising! In fact this is the first film since Gravity (2013) that I would recommend seeing in 3D. It was by accident that I saw this in 3D, and I am so glad that I did. You are captured up there on the wire with Petit at that moment, and the 3D really adds to that. This is evidently so, since it has been in the news that people suffering from vertigo are throwing up in the cinemas. But if anything this is just testament to Zemeckis’ ability to put us right in that moment. I don’t want to say much more about this scene, as all though this may seem like a cop out, I truly do believe that you must watch it for yourselves.

So if you’re willing to sit through ninety minutes of a still entertaining (Kingsley’s performance is a fun one to watch) but adequate origin story, which again, is not a tedious thing to watch, you will be rewarded with that breathtaking final walk that demonstrates why filmmaking can be so important and impressive. Don’t miss this one on the big screen!

See the official trailer on Youtube.

2 thoughts on “The Walk (2015)

    • cinesocialuk

      Hello mayeast. I’ve heard of the doc version of this story but haven’t seen it…the heights make me feel giddy even on film!

      Like

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