film review

Review | The Walk – 2015

The French Philippe Petit has a dream and what kind of a dream! Philippe is a high-wire walker, an artist who makes the impossible possible. From a young age, he was always busy with amusing people by juggling, cycling on his unicycle and, of course, by balancing on a tightrope. To get better, he needed help. He ends up with Papa Rudy, the high-wire walker in the local circus. Papa Rudy learns Philippe all kind of tricks,, but Philippe wants more. From the moment he read an article about the construction of the World Trade Center, it is his dream to walk the 42 meters between these two towers, on a height of 330 meters. To realize his dream, he puts a team together and goes to New York.

After Philippe Petit’s biographical book To Reach the Clouds, comes the film The Walk. Director of the biographical film is Robert Zemeckis, who co-wrote the story as well, and is – among many other things – known from the Back to the Future films. Starring in the lead role we see Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays the role of the French high-wire walker Philippe Petit. Once he says his first line, you hear how Levitt imitate his character with a very nice French accent. Another great actor in this film is Ben Kingsley as Papa Rudy. Papa Rudy is Philippe’s mentor and also a high-wire at a local circus. But Kingsley has a smaller role than you might expect, which is a pity.  Charlotte Le Bon plays street artist Annie, Philippe’s girlfriend and the woman who helps Philippe in achieving his dream. When the two meet, there is an immediate chemistry between the two characters. It is therefore not surprising that she has a large share in Philippe’s mission. 1271033 - THE WALK

To fulfill his dream, Philippe needs a team. From his mentor Papa Rudy he learns the most important things about wire walking: For example how to tighten your cable at a height of 330 meters and how to make it to the end? Annie is there to make sure Philippe doesn’t get nervous or loses his mind. The team also consists of a good friend who has to make the photos and a young man who actually has vertigo. Once in New York they recruit the braggart, the Inside Man – the person who has access to the WTC – and two hippies. Regarding to the hippies it is a serious question as to why these two join the team, what is their value? Obviously Levitt has the most screen time as Philippe Petit, who narattes the entire film from the Statue of Liberty. Since it is Petit’s story about his dream coming true, this is a nice touch to the film.

The film can be split into two parts. The first part is set in Paris and shows how Philippe develops a great interest in the World Trade Center, which is still under construction. He is already quite developed as a high-wire walker, but wants more. The first illegal stunt is a walk between the towers of the Notre Dame and the second stunt will be a 42 meter walk between the north and south tower of the WTC. This first part may seem a bit tedious, but the second part is fortunately much more immersive. This part begins when Philippe and his friends arrive in New York. Once in New York they prepare the mission and expand their crew. Everything is worked out in detail through careful observations: how and when can Philippe enter the WTC? And more importantly: what is the day he can let his dream come true?

Who thought The Walk would be a boring film, will be to learn that it’s not. The walk itself, the moment when Petit is on the cord and is making a 42 meter long journey, is relatively short. However, it’s definitely a magical moment. The world seems to stand still and it’s almost a moment of zen. Moreover, the images of heights are gorgeous and visually it’s an absolute masterpiece. You almost get a sense of vertigo. The moment when the police enters the roof of the tower to get Philippe of the cord, is pretty funny. Because there’s little they can do, since they can not go after Philippe when he turns around the cord. All they can do is wait untill the high-wire walker fulfills his dream and makes his move to the tower bij himself. Hundreds of meters away his fans and friends applaud for him off the ground, who see him as a hero. Therefore the only thing the police can do is give Philippe a minor punishment. The extras on the Blu-ray showed next to a few deleted scenes how Joseph Gordon-Levitt has prepared for his role. He leared to walk on a cord by Philippe Petit himself. Another interesting extra is the interpretation of the visual effects and the use of green screens.

Where you might think in advance that The Walk isn’t that interesting, think again. The biographical film about Philippe Petit’s dream is visually a masterpiece and can be split into two parts. The development of the dream in Paris and the realization of the dream in New York. Joseph Gordon-Levitt prepared very well for his role as the high-wire walker Petit. Besides the French accent, the actor has actually learned to walk on a cord, and carries the film in a sublime way. The film is with 123 minutes fairly long and the first part can be a bit boring. However, he second section and supreme moment makes everything good!

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One thought on “Review | The Walk – 2015

  1. I loved this movie when I saw it in the cinema. Didn’t regret going to the movie theater at all since the 3D IMAX experience was overwhelming. One of the few movies who really uses 3D in a special way.

    Did you see the Oscar winning documentary Man on Wire? It’s even better than the film.

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