Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley, César Domboy, Mark Camacho, Steve Valentine, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, Benedict Samuel
Written by: Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne, based on a book by Philippe Petit
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements involving perilous situations, and for some nudity, language, brief drug references and smoking
Running Time: 123
Date: 10/02/2015
IMDB

The Walk (2015)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Take You Higher

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Robert Zemeckis's newest movie is relatively simple, but wonderfully exhilarating; it has the power to make your palms sweat and catch your heart in your throat. Zemeckis is a whiz at technologically advanced movies that tell ever-so-slightly dark stories, but with a bright style and a warm heart. In re-creating this astounding feat of tightrope walking, his camera follows effortlessly, giving us a smooth, 360-degree view of the abyss around Philippe Petit's wire. We are with him on every step of his journey.

In the early 1970s, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a street performer in Paris, juggling things while balancing on tightropes. While at the dentist, he finds a magazine that shows the construction of the World Trade Center in New York City, and he suddenly envisions walking a tightrope between the twin towers, about 1350 feet above the ground. He trains with the master Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) and enlists the help of musician Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) and other friends. Spending many months planning and preparing, the crew runs into dozens of little setbacks that threaten to derail the entire walk, but Philippe is determined to see his dream realized, at nearly any cost.

Some have complained that the 123-minute movie is a slow starter, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt's feverish, dedicated performance energizes the first half. (It helps if viewers can appreciate anticipation as well as payoff.). He narrates from the dizzying top of the Statue of Liberty, showing off a convincing French accent (and snippets of actual French) as well as his own freshly-learned tightrope-walking and juggling skills. The movie respectfully and quietly acknowledges the beauty of the twin towers (without ever mentioning 9/11), re-creating them in a way that makes them seem real, and there, again.

It's a shame this terrific movie did not get more notice. Tri-Star's Blu-ray release may not have the total visceral impact of the big-screen, 3D experience, but the home version still packs a strong punch -- the feeling is still there -- and it's still highly recommended. It comes with a handful of short deleted scenes, three making-of featurettes, and previews, as well as a digital copy.

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