Beautiful cinematography and a thorough script make an obscure sub-culture something the masses can appreciate.
“THE WALK” follows aspiring French high-wire artist Philippe Petit (Gordon-Levitt) as he journeys to New York to put his wire between the World Trade Center towers so he can make a walk no one in the world has ever attempted.
In 1974 Frenchman Philippe Petit had a dream unlike any other and with his unrelenting determination he was not going to let anyone get in his way. Something this film was excellently able to capture was this unending desire Petite felt. Wanting to put a wire between two buildings, hundred of feet in the air to walk across it with only a balancing pole is an obscure dream to say the least. Not everyone can connect to this type of goal but this script did a fantastic job of not only showcasing the feats of Petit, it also explored the mind of this man and conveyed to the viewer the desire behind his dream.
This built a connection to the character and made you root for his success even more as throughout the film you get to know much more about this man than his simple wire-walking abilities. I really enjoyed how this film taught me a good amount about the sub-culture, the science of supporting the wire, and the mental preparation that goes into freeing a mind of fear in order to survive a high-wire walk.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt was simply awesome in his portrayal of Philippe Petit. From his appearance to his surprisingly realistic accent there was nothing in his performance that faltered. While his accent was not a traditional French toned, having seen the documentary on Petit, I can say it was very similar to his. Gordon-Levitt without a doubt poured himself into the role and wanted to make it as realistic as possible and you have to praise his efforts in pulling it off. Despite being a well known face in Hollywood, the charismatic performance he delivered transformed him into the character he was playing and never did he feel like an actor trying to be someone else.
Sure this project promoted itself on the stunning visuals of a high-wire walker to lure fans to theaters with the expectation of being immersed in a stunning 3D setting among the clouds, and without question it certainly delivered such. But the other film elements are what made this one the inspirational adventure it turned out to be. The first half of the film was slightly slow at times but it was needed to build the foundations of the characters, without this development the final act would not have been the emotionally charged climactic achievement it was.
The script brought a great blend of factual information, the culture of wire walking, and the era of the 70’s to the story and it did so with characters that people can connect to. The dialogue was very well written and gave nice doses of subtle humor to ease the dramatic tension the plot builds throughout.
Now as for the visuals, what can you say about them other than breathtaking, and perfectly executed. Director Robert Zemeckis crafted a beautifully shot film from beginning to end with a variety of film techniques that give the viewer some added appeal to an other wise common biographical tale. The locations were excellently captured and the filmmakers did a great job of creating the 1970’s time-period which lures the viewer easily into the settings.
Director of Photography Dariusz Wolski came in and pulled off some brilliant cinematography. I am not one to be afraid of heights but this films climax had my palms clammy as the camera pulls you out on the wire with Godron-Levitt, and suddenly makes you feel like you are hundreds of feet in the air all while sitting in your chair. Everyone is well aware of what CGI can do to an action blockbuster when creating over-the-top spectacle, but the subtle use of technology sometimes has the best reward. Something that was perfectly showcased in this film.
The detail in the third-act walk was impressive and never feels like a man in front of a green-screen. The combination of Gordon-Levitt’s physical acting, and the stunning visuals of the landscape around him, actually does manage to immerse the viewer into the actual event and it truly is something to see.
“The Walk” tells an inspirational tale of a man that wanted to do something no other had and it did so with an enjoyable amount of detail. While the pace may falter during the middle it never feels like time is wasted as it builds the builds the story-line as detailed as possible and it all pays off with a third-act you will not forget anytime soon.
– Starring –
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Benedict Samuel, Ben Schwartz, James Badge Dale, Steve Valentine, César Domboy, Clément Sibony
– Directed By –
Time: 123 min
MPAA Rating: PG (For thematic elements involving perilous situations, and some nudity, language, brief drug references and smoking)