Thursday, November 12, 2015

Movie with Abe: The Walk

The Walk
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Released September 30, 2015

Performance as an art can mean many things. The most visible professions in the world require a degree of performance, some quite literally, with actors pretending to be other people on a stage or in front of a camera. And then there is a more specific art, one that involves pulling off a daring, visually impressive feat, one that requires courage, preparation, and the utmost concentration. Of the many theatric events that have been performed throughout history, a man walking on a tightrope between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center ranks quite high in more than one sense.

“The Walk” presents its astounding tale by having its jolly protagonist, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), stand against a backdrop of the Statue of Liberty and the Twin Towers and narrate his entire story. From his early days as an eager performer whose family didn’t support his dreams, Petit is overwhelmed by a desire to do what others tell him can’t be done. The helpful mentorship of a respected and seasoned circus performer, Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), enables him to pursue that which he desires, which begins with a move to the big city of Paris and then a chance glimpse of the Twin Towers, slated for completion in 1973, which puts his life on only one course: to be able to hang his wire and walk between the two tallest buildings in the world.

“The Walk” is based on an excellent Oscar-winning 2008 documentary, “Man on Wire,” in which the real Petit has the opportunity to convey his true nature, an obsessive craziness centered on outdoing expectations and the excitement of the unexpected. Portraying a man like that is no small task, and Gordon-Levitt, who has played a wide range of roles over the past few years, is a capable performer who rises to the occasion. The film wisely chooses not to make the film a fully serious rendition, but instead takes a more lighthearted approach to paint Petit as a jovial reader of his own grand narrative.

The film is full of comedy, particularly when it comes to Petit’s merry band of accomplices. Clément Sibony, César Domboy, Steve Valentine, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, and Benedict Samuel make up the diverse cast of characters who serve as important contributors to Petit’s daring and illegal feat. Most charming of all is the lovely Charlotte Le Bon as Annie, who starts out as a rival street performer but quickly becomes Petit’s number one advocate. The film is fun and entertaining throughout, and it becomes simply exhilarating for the entirety of the time that Petit spends far above the ground at the top of the towers. The visual effects are extraordinary, recreating a place that we all know no longer exists. This film, which was dedicated to those who died on September 11th, is an enthralling and wonderful ode to two magnificent buildings and one man who could only see a place to hang his wire.


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