Gordon-Levitt walks along great heights – ‘The Walk’ review

Petit (Gordon-Levitt) prepares for the walk of his life
Petit (Gordon-Levitt) prepares for the walk of his life
Petit (Gordon-Levitt) prepares for the walk of his life

Four Star

Devin King | Staff Reporter
September 30, 2015; 4:40 p.m.

Never giving up, achieving your dreams and ignoring the criticisms of others. That is what Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk” is all about. It is full of the good-hearted messages a Disney film would have, but this biopic is still successful in well-crafted storytelling.

Based on the true story of Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the French high-wire artist who gained fame in 1974 for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, “The Walk” tells the story of Petit’s early life, and follows him to the day of his infamous stunt.

Much like the main character, “The Walk” has a very quirky narration. Much like how a Wes Anderson story would flow, the dialogue is straight to the point, even when it does not seem realistic, and there really is not too much time wasted on delving into the development of the supporting characters. There is not anything wrong with this decision since no time is wasted getting to the big high-wire walk, which would have slowed the based down otherwise.

Petit is a character who finds something beautiful and artistic in everything. You may not understand him, which does not seem to bother him or the film, but he is a man more about creativity and expression rather than logic. In much of the same way, the story is similar in that it chooses artistic imagery with its story over a compelling one with deep characters. As a result, there is a magical feeling throughout the film, much like the feeling one would get from watching an animated Disney film.

Every frame is literally a painting in “The Walk,” thanks to Dariusz Wolski’s breathtaking cinematography. Every shot, from the insides of an old French house to the gorgeous scenes from Petit’s imagination on the high-wire, is photogenic and well done. In addition to this, at my IMAX 3D screening, I was swept off my feet with how well the depth of field added to the experience of the high-wire scenes. For anyone planning on seeing “The Walk,” this is one of the rare cases in which I will highly recommend seeing it in 3D. The visuals are by far the best part of the film.

The performances are pretty well done overall but Gordon-Levitt knocks it out of the park with his. Even with an almost too over-the-top French accent, the performances his body language alone was exceptional. The determination in his eyes sells every intense scene and the film may not have been nearly as good without his strong performance. Also, the fact that his accent does not break at all, even during the scenes where Petit’s emotions run high, helps sells it.

“Forrest Gump” composer Alan Silvestri’s score is just as magical as the film’s visuals. While the main theme may be overplayed (I counted hearing it 4-5 times throughout the 123 minute runtime), it is still enjoyable enough for a repeated listening. There is a sense of innocence and purity in Silvestri’s music, which reflects Petit’s crazy thoughts.

“The Walk” is not close to being Zemeckis’ nor Gordon-Levitt’s best film. But what it accomplishes by setting out to create a piece of art rather than a compelling film is still admirable. Very few movies are like it, and despite its shortcomings, it is still an unforgettable experience.

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