Cast: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Critics all over the world are surprised at how The Walk turned out to be such a good watch. But then, what else did they expect from the director of Forrest Gump, Back to the Future franchise and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
If anything, Robert Zemeckis has proven once again with this film that he still knows how to make great scenes with stellar visual effects. His last release, The Flight was not low on blood pumping stunts either but this one is definitely going in the books.
Joseph Gordon Levitt, who hasn’t delivered a single bad performance in his career, starting from 10 Things I Hate About You to his latest Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, has given his best in this one (or maybe at par with 50-50).
The film is based on the real life story of Phillipe Petit, an ‘insane’ French rope-walker, played by Levitt. He is driven by his dream to walk on a tight rope between the World Trade Towers in New York City. The daredevil leaves his home in France for New York with his girlfriend Annie (played by Charlotte Le Bon), having learnt all the tricks from his mentor Papa Rudy (played by Ben Kingsley). He even tries to gather more people in his troupe who would help his in his walk between the towers.
The story is incredibly straight and focused towards the big walk only. Petit’s childhood and early life are also shown to the audience but only to establish that being a rope-walker was all his life’s about. In the opening scene itself, Gordon breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience. He stands atop the Statue of Liberty and tells us about his life’s dream and how he went about achieving it. In these parts, and these parts only, Levitt’s French accent goes out of control. It starts feeling like he is trying too hard and that reflects in his gestures too. However, in the linear plot of the movie, when he is with other characters, his accent and acting are very well balanced and don’t look fake at all.
To take the simple story -- a French guy wants to walk between the World Trade Towers -- and to turn it into a thrilling experience is a job well done by Zemeckis. Every time Petit walks on the rope, you clutch hard onto the arms of your chair or look at your own toes when he takes a step. Such empathy is the result of great acting skills as well as the chilling, scary and haunting visual effects. Reports have been coming in from all over the world how many fell sick in the theatres while watching the scenes showing camera angles from incredible heights. While we didn’t not throw up or anything, many gasps of sheer excitement mixed with fear were heard from everyone in the theatre.
In one particular scene, just to let us know how tall the towers really are, the camera looks up from the base and the building doesn’t seem to end. We think it is impossible, Petit thinks it is impossible and while we are at peace with that, he goes on top of the building and decides on doing the thing anyway.
This is where you realize how ‘insane’ an artist must be to do something like this. What is insane to us is ‘courage’ to him. If he falls, he would be termed foolish and be blamed for his end but if he succeeds, he will be remembered for an eternity. Reasonable minds would never venture into a territory as dangerous as this, but isn’t that what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary?
Philippe Petit was an amazing amalgamation of talent and courage (which many would call insanity) who made the impossible, possible. Watch this film for Levitt’s great portrayal of Petit, Zemeckis’ great visual effects and also the greatness of the feat achieved by the artist.
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