Friday, 11 March 2016

The Walk

The Walk, directed by Robert Zemeckis (director of ‘Forrest Gump’ all those years ago) tells the story of Phillippe Petit, the Frenchman who famously high-wired the gap between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt cast as Petit and a well-known director, I was expecting a film that would blow me away with tension and credibility.

Except it didn’t. I’m a very big fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, having seen him impress in films such as ‘Looper’ and ‘Inception’. Unfortunately though, he was completely miscast in this film – he had ther right personality, but that was about it. As we all know, Gordon-Levitt is not French, and sadly his French accent was embarrassing to listen to, which was made even worse when compared to all the other French actors in the film. Even Ben Kingsley’s accent sounded off, and it was a mistake just too dire not to notice.

And that was only the start of it. The rest of the characters seemed like caricatures, from the shaking mathematician who was afraid of heights to the permanently high, long-haired stoner (who was basically just Jay from Jay and Silent Bob minus the comedy). It wasn’t that they weren’t believable, because I’m sure all of these characters existed within Petit’s plight, but more that they were so dramatised that I couldn’t give them any credibility at all. The only character I really connected with was Annie, played by Charlotte Le Bon (and her five seconds of American accent was infinitely better than any other accent in the film).

I found the strangest part to be Zemeckis’ choice of narrative – I’m not a fan of narratives anyway, as I prefer the story to be shown to me, but this one particularly stood out. Gordon-Levitt narrated the story from atop the Statue of Liberty, helpfully filling us in with information we’d already worked out from the cinematic aspects. There was too much tell, and not enough show. It’s not that there wasn’t any show at all, because smaller parts of the story such as Petit’s relationship with his dad were expertly conveyed. The narrative was just too… narrative. If anything, removing the narrative entirely  would probably have aided the film more.

It wasn’t all bad though, and the film started to redeem itself with beautiful cinematography and editing, which was a clear nod to the stylised films of French filmmaker Jean-Luc Goddard. It was all there, from the moving camera scenes to the dash of colour within a black and white screen, and as a vintage French film fan I really enjoyed that part of it. It could have left some viewers feeling confused though – particularly the ones who have no interest in French cinema. The CGI was very well done as well – it was highly realistic, and really added something to the final film. Although many of the stunts were done with CGI, Joseph Gordon-Levitt actually learnt how to high-wire walk for the film, which I thought was very commendable.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough to make the film worth watching. More like a play than based on real events, the film seemed to miss the point entirely – I’d expected a film about high-wire walking, and not just about France. The pace was all over the place, and I didn’t feel the tension I’d first expected.

Sadly, for such a promising cast, I can only give The Walk a 2/5.


Hannah Read

The Walk at CeX

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