Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
Joseph Gordon-Levitt … Philippe Petit
Charlotte Le Bon … Annie Allix
Ben Kingsley …
James Badge Dale … Papa Rudy
Ben Schwartz … Albert
Steve Valentine … Barry Greenhouse
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|Director||Robert Zemeckis—“Back to the Future” (1985), “Flight” (2012), “A Christmas Carol” (2009), “Beowulf” (2007)|
Mel's Cite du Cinema
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|Distributor||TriStar Pictures, a division of Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment|
“Every dream begins with a single step”
“The Walk” is based on the true story of a young French high wire walker who made his dream of crossing between the rooftops of the North and South buildings of New York’s World Trade Center (in 1974), at the time, the world’s tallest buildings, a reality. But this film is so much more than just that event alone.
The story of Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) begins when, at age eight, he sneaks into a circus and becomes immediately captivated by the high wire act. He decides to teach himself how to walk the rope, and it is years later in Paris that Philippe, now a street performer, reads about the construction of the World Trade Center buildings, and his dream is given wings. While in Paris, he meets a musician named Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), a fellow artist with whom he can share both his heart and his vision. Soon, he makes the acquaintance of others who will join him in his grand and audacious endeavor, code named “le coup.”
Director Robert Zemeckis’ (“Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump) “labor of love” that is “The Walk” is evident from the beginning of the film, in both the impeccable cinematography showcasing France and the heart of Philippe “the dreamer.” Philippe’s enthusiasm is infectious and draws in not only the people that will be needed to make this happen, but the audience, as well, and does a good job in reminding film goers why we enjoy going to the movies.
Violence: Minor. Philippe is arrested, hand cuffed and thrown down in one instance, because all of his grandest wire walks were done illegally. Philippe zealously guards his sidewalk drawn “circle of performance” with comic violence, as he runs over people’s feet with his unicycle. Philippe imagines one of his friends falling to his death. But other than that, it is more the sense of peril that accompanies his death defying feats that takes center stage, rather than mock or imagined violence.
Language: Moderate. While not pervasive in the use of bad language, when the words make their appearance they sully a mostly family-friendly film. The list of words include: as* (4), sh** (6), bastard (1), p*ss (2), BS (1), SOB (3), son of a b**** (1), hell (6), damn (3) and cr*p (1). The Lord’s holy name is taken in vain—Jesus (1), Jesus Christ (1), “for Chr*st’s sakes” (1), “Oh my G*d” (3), “God-d***” (1).
Sex/Nudity: Moderate. Philippe and Annie kiss, but nothing more is ever shown. Philippe is seen getting up from bed, Annie asleep next to him, and it is implied he is undressed. On the roof, Philippe goes into a panic searching for an almost invisible fishing line, so he strips naked and runs around in a frenzy trying to feel it. His full bare backside and profile is shown several times during this scene that, given the darkness of night, could have been easily obscured.
A few words about alcohol and drugs are featured in the film. When Philippe first dines with Annie, they drink wine (inconsequential in French culture), and one of the Americans who helps is in a constant drug induced state of mind, though he is never shown taking drugs.
The film chronicles the events leading up to Philippe Petit’s famous walk, but, in following his journey over those few years, we get to see how he handles the lessons that come in every life.
Faith: Although it is placed on a man and not our Creator, Annie never falters in her belief of Philippe’s ability. Later, when arriving at the Towers for the first time, he exclaims, “No one in his right mind would do this. It’s impossible, but I’ll do it.” These two examples are focused on what ‘man’ can do, but, as God’s children, we know how much more can be achieved in His name, if we only believe.
To His disciples, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” —Matthew 17:20
Thankfulness: Philippe has an epiphany and all at once feels something he admits he’s never felt before: thankful. Sadly, while he is thankful for the wire, the towers and the city, he makes no mention of God. His newfound appreciation of life is moving, but it falls short. Yes, we are called to give thanks, but we should do so in a very specific direction—heavenwards.
“… in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” —1 Thessalonians 5:18
Focus: When Philippe begins his walk, the city, the buildings and even the crowds all disappear, and there are no longer any distractions to keep him from walking the wire. He is at peace, showing an incredible expression of focus, making this certainly one of the most mesmerizing and touching scenes of the movie. The Word of God also calls us to greatness, but it is not a type of greatness the world will recognize or look up to.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” —1 Corinthians 9:24
The score, as composed by Alan Silvestri, is a perfect accompaniment to the film and solidifies another winning collaboration with director Robert Zemeckis. Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns in a fine performance as the mischievous, unconventional but charming clown Philippe, and Ben Kingsley depicts the role of his mentor, Papa Rudy, with what, I can only hazard a guess, can be described as Parisian gusto.
“The Walk” is essentially a caper movie, about an illegal but innocent crime told in a fascinating and, at times, breathtaking fashion, especially during the final act when the audience can imagine taking those steps along with Philippe, and, for this reason alone, it is best seen in IMAX 3D, as was intended. Some very unnecessary content (brief nudity, sporadic cursing, and the Lord’s name taken in vain) diminishes an otherwise amazing and very uplifting film.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.