Walking A Thin Line
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis;
Stars: Joseph Gordon Leavitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley
The story of French wire walker Philippe Petit was already told in the documentary Man on Wire from 2008, so it seemed strange that Hollywood decided to retell it again this time with actors. The Walk, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Joseph Gordon Leavitt as Petit, is an amazing- looking film as it is showing on some screens in 3D IMAX. Visually it can’t be criticised. But while the story of Petit, a humble French wire walker who becomes obsessed with stringing a wire between the Twin Towers in New York, newly erected in 1974, is an interesting one, it is arguable whether there is enough here to make a genuinely compelling two-hour film.
Zemeckis does manage to pad it out with flashbacks to Petit as a young man, encountering circus performer Uncle Rudy (Ben Kingsley), who becomes Petit’s high wire Yoda, and falling in love with fellow street performer, singer Annie (Charlotte Le Bon). But while the final stunt does look incredible and suitably vertiginous, especially on 3D IMAX, the journey isn’t actually that interesting. Zemeckis with his production designer Naomi Shohan has done an exceptional job of bringing 1974 New York to life on screen but the script is so cheesy in places that it gives it this fable-like quality, making everything feel unreal. Gordon Leavitt’s French accent is mostly decent although sometimes it does descend into Clouseau territory at times. The Walk is a very impressive feat visually but it would have been a stronger film if it was half an hour shorter and if they’d cast a French actor as Petit. So it’s worth seeing on the big screen in IMAX but recommended with a few reservations.