THE WALK

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Di­rec­tor : Robert Ze­meckis (The Po­lar Ex­press) Star­ring: Joseph Gor­don-Le­vitt, Char­lotte Le Bon, Ben Kings­ley, Clé­mont Si­bony, James Badge Dale.

IN The Walk, what seems to be an open-and-shut case of mind pre­vail­ing over mat­ter is very skil­fully scaled up­wards and out­wards.

By the time the fi­nal cred­its roll, the movie has glided to a higher, bet­ter place, where at­ti­tude has tri­umphed over al­ti­tude. And the view is sim­ply glo­ri­ous.

This is the amaz­ing true story of Philippe Petit, a dec­o­rated French high-wire walker whose ul­ti­mate achieve­ment came 110 storeys above the side­walks of New York City.

It was here, one Au­gust morn­ing in 1974, Petit took a lengthy air­borne stroll be­tween the World Trade Cen­ter’s twin tow­ers.

With the help of a rag­tag ca­bal of co-con­spir­a­tors, Petit was able to set up sev­eral thin me­tal ropes to link the corners of the two build­ings.

As con­struc­tion on the WTC site was yet to be for­mally com­pleted, se­cu­rity was not what it could have been to stop this dar­ing (and illegal) es­capade. So Petit was free to art­fully am­ble back and forth along his trusty wire, as if he was merely mov­ing from the kitchen to the lounge­room.

There was no safety har­ness and, of course, when per­form­ing at a height of more than 400m, a net be­low would have been to­tally use­less.

Once The Walk reaches the point where Petit must fi­nally pull off the cre­ative caper that has con­sumed his en­tire life, the film is a gen­uine vis­ual won­der to be­hold (es­pe­cially when seen in 3D – the en­tirety of Petit’s time out on the wire con­veys a dra­matic sense of sheer height the re­cent ad­ven­ture saga Ever­est cu­ri­ously did not).

How­ever, to get to the great stuff, you will have to pa­tiently en­dure an hour of pif­fling pre­am­ble that backs up a lot of wack­i­ness and whimsy, and lets it spill all over the screen.

The wait is def­i­nitely worth it, even if you never quite warm to the im­plau­si­bly jaunty por­trayal of Petit by lead ac­tor Joseph Gor­don-Le­vitt (or the bits where he nar­rates the tale di­rect-to-cam­era from on top of the Statue of Lib­erty).

Gor­don-Le­vitt quite lit­er­ally hits a per­fect stride once The Walk stops goof­ing around and po­si­tions it­self atop the World Trade Cen­ter.

With the help of in­no­va­tive ef­fects and some in­tri­cate di­rec­tion from Robert Ze­meckis, Gor­don-Le­vitt master­fully maps out each step of Petit’s au­da­cious sashay across the sky with both ex­act­ing skill and sur­pris­ing emo­tion.

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