Les carottes sont cuites
Classic Elsternwick - Sunday 18 October 2015, 10:00am
Running time: 123m
Country: United States
Classification: PG (Mild themes and coarse language)
Release date: 15/10/15
Cost: $10 (Optus Rewards)
Rating: 7.5/10 (ME 4/5, DP 3.5/5)
Beginning in early 1970s Paris (baguettes served at tables with gingham checked tablecloths in cobbled laneways and a soundtrack of accordion music may have somehow given that away), The Walk is the story of street performer and tightrope walker, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his crazy dream to 'confront the void' and walk a wire strung between the newly built Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Centre. We watch Phillipe establishing his crew of 'accomplices' and concocting an elaborate plan to make the artistic 'coup' of the century a reality. Along the way we meet his trusted mentor Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), his love interest and fellow street performer Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) and other members of his rag-tag team including Jean-Louis (Clément Sibony), a passionate photographer and accomplished archer, Jeff (César Domboy), a mathematical genius who is terrified of heights and can only speak English when working out maths problems, Barry (Steve Valentine), who is the insider working on the 82nd floor of the South Tower and Jean-Pierre (James Badge Dale), their enthusiastic communications expert. The Twin Towers themselves also become prominent characters in the piece.
The story unfolds with a touch of difference, as Philippe tells the story (a little strangely perhaps, seemingly from the torch of the Statue of Liberty) and then we are shown what happens next as Philippe and his accomplices conspire to put together their plan. At times the narration is a little cheesy (and Gordon-Levitt's French accent at times borders on the bizarre), however it is through this narrative that Philippe's unbridled passion for his plan actually becomes most evident and Gordon-Levitt brings him to life superbly. You are easily drawn into the craziness of this fanciful dreamer and on more than one occasion you will find yourself asking "pourquoi, pourquoi, pourquoi would anybody consider doing something so utterly crazy and potentially dangerous?" At times you may also have a feeling that you are watching an 'Italian Job' style heist film, which provides a great sense of fun and anticipation throughout.
The visuals in this film are stunning; genuinely making you feel as if you are precariously 110 floors up in the air at times. The scenes during the final frantic set-up for the 'coup' on 6 August 1974 and eventually the scenes with Philippe on the high wire between the towers are breathtaking and succeeded in generating a strong physical reaction from both of us; a rare occurrence in cinema these days. At times we had to look away and found ourselves watching many of these scenes through our fingers, as the dizzying heights, the palpable danger and ultimately the sense of serenity as Philippe walked, were brought to life. The riveting climax to The Walk may actually have you 'merding' your pants and on the internationally recognised FI (Film Intensity) Scale* it rates as a 'Class 3: Brown Underpants'. The Walk is most certainly made for 3D (with some very obvious gimmickry utilised early on) but it lost none of its stomach churning and vertigo inducing qualities in the 2D screening that we went to. This is a very enjoyable film that tells an extraordinary tale from a simpler and more innocent time. It is definitely worth watching, particularly for the incredible visuals and effects as Philippe's dream ultimately becomes his reality. (DP)
* - may, or may not, be a true measure