Frenchman Philippe Petit is an artist who is considered by many to be the best artist on the wire, a man who has no fear of crucifying a cable among many world buildings and, without fear of falling or arrest, delights spontaneously gathered audiences. His performances gained so much popularity that he received invitations from the main people in certain cities in order to magnify a certain festival. The turning point in his career, when he went from an ordinary juggler and street entertainer to the front pages of daily newspapers, was his famous walk on the wire between the newly built two buildings of the World Trade Center in New York, on August 7, 1974.
This film, signed by master Robert Zemeckis, deals with the early career of the artist and the preparations that led to this truly great challenge being successfully performed. Philip (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young Parisian, a street performer who earns his living by performing small plays in the squares. Even as a boy, he was fascinated by walking on a wire. Due to the circumstances, he comes to a photograph of a shopping center under construction and decides to pay tribute to it in some way by walking on a cable from one building to another, at a height of 415 meters.
Influenced by that decision, he returned to the circus with Pope Rudy (Ben Kingsley), the man who inspired him to take an interest in string dancing. With his girlfriend, Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) gathers a group of people who support him and dedicate their time to making a plan in order to seize the opportunity to successfully carry out the imagined endeavor.
The Walk is a film that has all the characteristics of a project that people can relate to and enjoy. A biographical story about a young, persistent enthusiast who can’t get any trouble out of what he imagined. A stubborn perfectionist whose artistic spirit does not rest. His mission, as well as his life motto, were doomed from the very beginning to failure and misunderstanding of people, so he was left without the support of his parents who kicked him out of the house. However, Philip does not allow anything to separate him from his goal and he really has to be given a hand because of many things, above all because of his courage and perseverance.
I approached watching this film quite naively, a little skeptically, in the sense that he is now spreading the rope and walking, I don’t see what’s interesting in that. Already in the first frame (in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt with blue eyes begins a narrative story about his endeavor, in French, while New York stretches behind him), I changed my mind. This is a story about one endeavor, but it is also a story about the human spirit, inspiration, motivation, perseverance, cultivating the artistic spirit, support and much more. I greeted the end of the film with the thought of spreading the rope in it and walking, there is something very interesting.
Overall, the film is very convincing. Robert Zemekis is known as a man who leaves nothing to chance, so it is the same with this film. Each shot simply hypnotizes the viewer, and this is especially true of scenes when our hero is in the air. The final quarter of the film is the culmination of many feelings, and, no matter how meaningless you think that this endeavor is, you will send off the check-out rush with sincere enthusiasm and admiration to Filip Petit. The view of New York and Paris during those years is extraordinary, it is really difficult to find a flaw from that side.
Quality biographical dramas are also characterized by excellent acting. I consider Joseph Gordon-Levitt an outspoken filmmaker who chooses what projects he will appear in. The versatile artist, who almost debuted both as a director and as a producer (Don Jon), is outstanding in presenting Philip Petit. Lively, chatty, motivated and very persistent, with minimal physical transformations (hairstyle, blue lenses) and an extraordinary French accent, Joseph does not allow you to take your eyes off the screen for a second. I guess he put a lot of effort into mastering wire walking himself, and such a dedication to the role and the film is to be commended.
Ben Kingsley is unrecognizable in the supporting role of Pope Rudi’s circus performer with his Czech accent. Charlotte le Bon as Annie, also a street artist and the greatest support for our hero, is simply irresistible with her original French charm. They are accompanied by numerous actors that I have never seen on the screen (or I don’t remember seeing them), and the film works great on the acting side.
The Walk is an excitingly told biographical drama about one truly amazing endeavor of an inspired individual. The fact is that some events got a non-existent thriller note, but personally I didn’t mind. Visually flawless, perfectly acted, with an inspiring story that will keep you on the edge of the seat and with the addition of comedy and romance just enough.