The Walk Screen 20 articles

The Walk

2015

The Walk Poster
  • By the time this final act gets underway, the movie has long been in free fall: The plunge into the abyss commences immediately, as a Pepé Le Pew–accented and terribly bewigged Gordon-Levitt directly addresses the camera from Miss Liberty’s torch, concluding his blustery audience welcome with perhaps the stalest expression in any language, “C’est la vie.”

  • In Zemeckis’ buttery paws, Petit becomes a stock action hero, a twinkle-toed dreamer who is powered by nuggets of old-timey wisdom (c/o Ben Kingsley in a pork-pie hat) and screwball serendipity that he acquires along the road to infamy. The moral ambivalence that is the trademark of someone such as Jean-Pierre Melville – cinema’s grand master of depicting the cold process of “crime” – is sorely lacking.

  • As a work of precise emotional manipulations, narrative clarity, and brazenly patriotic pride, it's remarkably effective—but the movie lacks the taste, the daring, the single-mindedness, the madness of beauty. Lapses that are venial in the filming of the amusing yet somewhat clichéd origin story of Petit's artistic calling and historic quest prove numbing in what ought to be the exaltation and sublimity of the already vaunted sequence in which the movie culminates: the walk itself.

  • I don’t really have an issue with the exclusive focus on spectacle here, that Petit is depicted as a marvelous, twinkling elf and that his girlfriend and team are just glorified tools in the push toward the towering achievement he’s pursuing. The way it’s approached, however, irks me a bit. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Zemeckis’ focus is primarily on magic and illusion, which is not especially pertinent since high-wire walking isn’t an illusion and Petit isn’t a magician.

  • If the “early life” part of The Walk and subsequent New York chapter obediently comply with age-old biopic conventions, they also conceal a covert operation on Zemeckis's part to train the audience to more fully understand height and scale... When The Walk delivers its final emotional payload, it's an overwhelming vertiginous sensation.

  • The metallic creak of the cable as Petit walks; the rustle and hiss of wind passing over his clothes and through his hair; the muffled sound of traffic noises floating up from 110 stories below: The Walk makes these and other sensations palpable, along with Petit's delight and moments of doubt and fear. If only Zemeckis had faith in his filmmaking power! What The Walk is missing, unfortunately, is an ability to recognize when poetry and mystery are enough and should be left alone to breathe.

  • The Walk becomes only more fascinating for the binaries it can’t help but be a part of: Petit’s risk of life on buildings that would be the site of unfathomable suffering. That last is absolutely not meant as criticism of the film, but more just marveling at the inescapable shadow that history can still cast. Zemeckis, one of Hollywood’s grandest showmen for decades now, is intently focused on pulling off marvels, making a film that’s as much about the need to put on a show as anything else.

  • At no point does The Walk display a delicate touch, but it is no less true to its subject in its way than Marsh’s film [Man on Wire], hectoring in the manner of an urban attention-getter trying to gather a crowd. There are moments when one regrets heeding its call to step right up, but when Petit steps right out, all is forgiven.

  • The Walk makes clear that Marsh’s reliance on stills was a strength, not a weakness. It invested his film’s payoff with an entirely appropriate stillness and a sense of balance. Zemeckis, working so hard to re-enact Petit’s performance with noisy pyrotechnical magic, misses that it is above all a marvel of intellectual rigour – probably one of the most dazzling feats of French rationalism since Pascal’s Pensées.

  • [David and I] enjoyed it. It’s not an undying masterpiece, but it’s certainly better than many of the reviewers seem to think... I think that it contributes to The Walk in a variety of ways. Possibly some of it could be cut, but most of it functions in ways that go beyond what is conveyed through images and dialogue.

  • The Walk is lighter-than-air, as if to reassure Americans for whom the Twin Towers remain a sombre symbol; it floats through its plot with a kind of prankish glee – then quietly floats out onto the wire, and the void opens up yet the film doesn’t panic. Zemeckis (helped by cutting-edge technology) shows every detail with the same unhurried ease as Petit walking the wire – even as our palms start to sweat, and our stomach knots. Is The Walk perfect? No. But it’s incredible.

  • Presumably future generations will splice the first two-thirds of Man on Wire to The Walk's finale, creating a film that's satisfying from start to finish. Zemeckis achieves what the documentary couldn't, providing a terrifying, awe-inspiring sense of what the experience was like from above the void; I'm not particularly acrophobic, but my stomach was in knots for the entire "performance," mostly because *holy fucking shit Petit actually did that*.

  • [In the first hour,] Zemeckis is firmly on his favorite terrain here, and frankly, it’s good to have him back. Once The Walk arrives in Manhattan—scored to Sly and the Family Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher,” bless—the film ascends into one of the most tense and exhilarating 45 minutes or so of filmmaking this year.

  • Zemeckis turns the event into a kind of blockbuster Cinéma Pur – an almost avant-garde game of composition, movement and perspective, exhilaratingly attuned to form and space. (Mad Max: Fury Road did the same.) The camerawork is subtle and meticulous, the 3D head-spinningly well-applied.

  • Zemeckis, of course, has long pioneered cinematic wizardry, in films from “Forrest Gump” to “Polar Express” and “A Christmas Carol.” His latest, though, may be his most fully accomplished and satisfying work from an artistic standpoint, in part due to the combination of mythic power, psychological fascination and multivalent contemporary resonance in its story.

  • Gordon-Levitt is spry and casual enough to make it work, but it's still a little corny; I sometimes wonder, longingly, where the director of sharply funny pictures like Used Cars and Death Becomes Her has gone. But if any director knows his way around 3-D, it's Zemeckis... He comes through in the clutch, beautifully dramatizing both the preparation process and, ultimately, the walk itself.

  • Although amply justified by its thrilling twenty-minute set piece, The Walk (unlike Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón’s marvelous 2013 exploration of the 3-D void) is not a fully sustained experience. But it is a milestone in the development of digitalized cinema and the memory of 9/11.

  • Petit's self-described "coup" has been recounted before, in the fine documentary Man on Wire, but Zemeckis' combination of digital artistry and old-school storytelling chops brings a singularly exquisite tension to the final act. It's not often that a sequence is at once suspenseful *and* moving, but that's where grunt work of establishing the stakes and paying close attention to detail pays off.

  • Partly an artistic apologia for the 3-D format, but also a lament for a time when one could traipse through airport security with heavy rigging equipment and casually tell the agent that you were going to walk across the Twin Towers. The events of 9/11 obviously loom over The Walk, even though they're never mentioned. And the very fact that such a gentle film, devoid of villainy, evil or violence, could be created under this unseen shadow feels like a declaration of artistry and humanity.

  • In general I prefer not to watch films in 3D. It is almost never an improvement and the glasses can be a distraction, especially for someone like me who already wear glasses. But The Walk was an exception. Here the 3D was more fulfilling than I have ever experienced before, almost the raison d’être for the film. In every scene the space has been designed and shot to take advantage of the possibilities of 3D, making everything integrated, every brick, every tea spoon, every leaf.

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