Thursday, October 8, 2015

[Review] The Walk

3D is an often sore subject among film stalwarts, and for good reason. Most of the time it's just unnecessary, and it even has the potential to make the images worse by blurring and darkening. Then, when films come along that do utilize the 3D well (like Gravity, and this year's Everest), there's always debate whether the 3D experience is the main reason why they succeed, and there's a risk of gimmickry. The Walk uses the technology well, and it also has compelling elements to go with it.

Based on the true, incredible story of Philippe Petit's walk across a tightrope between the Twin Towers of World Trade Center in 1974 (and yes, there was already a well-received documentary on this called Man on Wire), The Walk dramatizes the events with immense success. Robert Zemeckis' film opens with an evocative shot of the Towers in angelic-like light from the perspective of the Statue of Liberty. Here, our protagonist Philippe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) enters the picture, breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to us (he narrates throughout the story). He takes us back to his early days as a quirky street performer in Paris, to the climax of his career. JGL's French accent is a bit shaky, but it seems to get more tolerable as the film goes along. He actually ends up embodying the character, and it results in an impressive performance.

The film carries a spunky tone of nimbleness that the trailers did not convey. These flashback scenes are in black & white, while mixing in some standout objects of primary color--in a way reminiscent of Gary Ross' Pleasantville or Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish. The playfully gleaming musical score adds a circusy and magical touch, and there's some imaginative editing that displays the progression of Philippes skills. The stylish flairs push the film closer to the Michel Gondry side than anticipated, and it's welcomed. During this time, there is a lot of humor, and Ben Kingsley hops on as Philippe's mentor (another aspect that the trailer never conveyed).

Once Philippe journeys to NYC, a lot of extensive planning and preparation takes place, and the film transitions into an engaging heist thriller (except they're not attempting to steal anything), as well as a moving tribute to the buildings that are no longer there. Even knowing how everything turns out, the film still keeps the intensity high, especially as the characters are pushed to the edge, figuratively and literally. The actual Walk is guaranteed to be the most breathtaking setpiece you'll see all year (seriously--your palms will sweat). The entire sequence is both triumphant and gorgeous, as Philippe's "there is no why" dream culminates, and the camera presents some chilling aerial views and money shots. They always tell you to not look down, and this film definitely looks down.

* 9/10 *

No comments:

Post a Comment