|THE WALK (director/writer: Robert Zemeckis; screenwriters: Christopher Browne/based on the book “To Reach the Clouds” by Philippe Petit; cinematographer: Dariusz Wolski; editor: Jeremiah O’Driscoll; music: Alan Silvestri; cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Philippe Petit), Ben Kingsley (Papa Rudy), Charlotte Le Bon (Annie Allix), James Badge Dale ( Jean-Pierre), Clement Sibony (Jean-Louis), Cesar Domboy (Jean-François), Benedict Samuel (David), Ben Schwartz (Albert). Steve Valentine (Barry Greenhouse), Soleyman Pierini (Philippe as a child); Runtime: 123; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Steve Starke/Robert Zemeckis/Jack Rapke; Sony Pictures Entertainment; 2015)-3D|
human interest pic takes us to great heights."
by Dennis Schwartz
Robert Zemeckis ("Polar Express"/"Forrest
Gump"/"Cast Away") inspirational true story is filmed
in a buoyant and lighthearted manner. The story is
told from the p.o.v of the performer, the egotistical
but likable obsessed daredevil high-wire
artist Philippe Petit (Joseph
Gordon-Levitt). He's the young Frenchman
who became an international pop-culture legend after
his incredible risky feat received headline coverage
throughout the world. Philippe and his motley
crew worked in secret to place a steel cable between
the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Thereby
Philippe was able to successfully walk across the
large gap during the early morning hours of
Aug. 7, 1974. The illegal stunt on the WTC's
110th floor, performed without a net, is the
centerpiece of the pic. The hour leading up to that is
slow-going, but the pleasure derived from 'the walk'
itself, so wonderfully recreated onscreen, made me
forget about my earlier complaints.
running commentary of The Walk is provided by Joseph
Gordon-Levitt, while sporting a heavy French
accent and seated on the torch
atop of the Statue of Liberty. It
begins in 1973, in Paris. Philippe is a
multi-talented street mime artist, a career move
which did not please his middle-class parents.
Flashbacks show at an earlier period Philippe
was mentored in the hire-wire by Papa
Rudy (Ben Kingsley), the
Czech circus performer performing in Paris. While
doing his street act, Philippe is attracted to a
busker named Annie (Charlotte
Le Bon), who becomes his girlfriend and main
supporter when he aspires to do his WTC stunt while
it's still under construction. A group of enablers, he
calls accomplices, are lined up in Paris (Clement
& Cesar Domboy)
and more 'coup' helpers are added in NYC (Steve
Valentine & Benedict Samuel).
How the tightrope artist rigs things up and gets
access to the site by posing as a construction
architect is carried off with the same
precision as the casino burglars used in “Ocean’s
human interest pic takes us to great heights because
of its splendid special effects, the outstanding
visual way it uses 3D and the hyperbolic performance
of Gordon-Levitt. Also,
one can't help but be reminded of the 9/11 tragedy.
Because Zemeckis paints such a
pretty picture of the WTC, the upbeat story serves to
eulogize it forever.
based on the memoir “To Reach the Clouds” by
Philippe Petit..Zemeckis and
Christopher Browne co-wrote the
screenplay. In 2008, .James Marsh shot
the event as a documentary called "Man
on Wire," covering the same subject but in a more
moving and deeper way.
REVIEWED ON 10/10/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ