Autumn in New York. The Walk is one of three book-to-movies set in New York screening at this year’s New York Film Festival. It’s all part of that ‘award season’ buzz the studios work so very hard to achieve. There’s Carol and Brooklyn, both featuring main characters who work in New York department stores, and then there’s The Walk, about the Frenchman who famously walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers while they were still under construction in 1974. Many of us were bonkers for the thrilling James Marsh documentary on Phillipe Petit, Man on Wire. The Walk has a lot to live up to.
The Walk features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit. How does he do?
a) “a charming and awesome turn from Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role.” Pete Hammond, Deadline
b) Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns in a “self-regarding performance” in which, “the character is borderline obnoxious, right up until he acquires some vulnerability by virtue of the void stretching out beneath him.” He also has a “cheesy French accent.” David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
c) “The first half of the movie treads the boundary between mildly irritating and completely unbearable. Mr. Petit, an elfin Frenchman with a terrible haircut, is played by manic-pixie song-and-dance man Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an irrepressible imp, greeting the audience in accented English from a perch on the Statue of Liberty’s torch. ... He is, as I’ve mentioned, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This makes him, objectively speaking, the most annoying person on earth.” A.O. Scott, New York Times
d) “Whatever one thinks of Gordon-Levitt’s weird wig and contacts, the physical aspects of his performance do impress as he adopts the lithe, catlike moves of a professional funambulist — and the attitude of a flip French artiste. Say what you will about the accent, but Zemeckis and co-writer Christopher Browne have captured Petit’s voice — the real, honest-to-God way he expresses himself — and by channeling that, the actor successfully wins us over from the outset, hanging out in the Statue of Liberty’s torch.” Peter Debruge, Variety)
So that’s good news/bad news for JGL! You know what they all agree on? The Walk is all about the walk. The final half of the movie, with its spectacular special effects in 3-D will have us looking down over the city of New York and feeling woozy and wowed at the same time. And as Americans, seeing the towers, and knowing their fate and the thousands that died with them on September 11th, somewhat bereft as well.
Watching the newest 5 minute trailer, I think we could have figured that out for ourselves. The Walk directed by Robert Zemeckis and also starring Charlotte LeBon and , opens in select cities on September 30th with a wider rollout on October 9th.
How about you? Are you ready to take The Walk?