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THE WALK (review)

walk_ver2THE WALK

Written by Robert Zemeckis & Christopher Browne / Directed by Robert Zemeckis / Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley & Charlotte Le Bon
Jean-Louis: All artists are anarchists to some degree, don’t you agree?
Everyone has a dream. For most people, that dream is not to illegally string a wire between two buildings over a hundred stories high and walk across it. But for French high-wire artist Philippe Petit, the ridiculous and seemingly impossible stunt was not only a dream, it was an obsession. Petit’s adventure was initially chronicled in the Oscar winning documentary, MAN ON WIRE, and now director Robert Zemeckis (FORREST GUMP, FLIGHT) gives audiences a whole new view of Petit’s death-defying and breathtaking feat with his latest film THE WALK, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (THE DARK KNIGHT RISES) as the passionate artist.

Making a modest living as a street performer in Paris in the early 1970’s, Petit’s life was changed when he came across a newspaper ad detailing the construction of a new and stylish pair of towers in New York City. Upon completion, these buildings would top even the Eiffel Tower by almost 100 meters in height. And with two of them side by side, they seemed designed for someone just like Petit and his wire. So he devised an elaborate plan and set about finding the necessary accomplices to help him make the artistic coup of the century a reality.


THE WALK is an incredibly striking film, and not just visually. With the final 30 minutes or so understandably making for the most riveting scenes, there’s a temptation to dismiss the buildup to those scenes as “filler”, the requisite backstory we must endure until we “get to the good stuff”. Granted, the film could perhaps be some 15 minutes shorter but Gordon-Levitt’s engaging performance and the playful tone struck by Zemeckis beg the film to be watched in its entirety, the first three quarters of it building both anticipation and apprehension. You see the obstacles Petit and his crew had to overcome and watch as his obstinate determination both inspired and infuriated all those along for the ride. And when the film’s apex does finally arrive, it’s startling just how emotional those moments are. You hold your breath as he steps out into the air, ultimately celebrating both his incredible achievement and the realization of his dream while also feeling the loss of those stunning buildings that didn’t even stand for 30 years.

In the end, THE WALK is a tribute to the Twin Towers and the man who decided to walk in the air between them. It is a unique take on a 40-year old story, a remarkable story that deserves this fresh perspective and the sense of awe the filmmakers are able to inspire.

4 sheep

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