Film defies the odds


“The Walk” is the true story of a big dreamer. Phillip Petite came to America in the 70’s to achieve his lifelong aspiration of finding the perfect place to perform his tightrope walking act; that place is in between the Twin Towers. The story is narrated by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays the part of Petite in the film.

Using a surprisingly accurate and believable French accent, Levitt captures Petite’s spirit and passion for his art during the narration scenes, the voice-overs and during the course of the movie itself. His performance is inspiring and is the beating heart of the film. This is categorized as a character drama, much like director Robert Zemeckis’s other films, “Forrest Gump” and “Flight.”

Ben Kingsly co-stars as Petite’s mentor, Papa Rudy. The father-son chemistry between the two was very fun to watch; the two play off of each other very well.

The other tent pole to this amazing circus act is the visual direction. The cut-ins of Petite’s narration have him standing on the torch of the Statue of Liberty. This is how the film begins, and it sets up a magical, fable-like feeling that is this amazing story of an American Dream come true.

There are three parts to this movie, the first being a telling of Petite’s origins as a street performer in France and the second part shifts tones into a heist type film as Petite and his friends stage their illegal hanging of the high wire across the World Trade Center. The third and final part is Petite’s walk, which is beautifully and creatively shot using liberal amounts of CGI to recreate the historic event. Levitt was taught by the actual Phillip Petite how to walk the tightrope and learned to walk by himself after just eight days.

Like the operation to hang the wire, were some hiccups along the way during the movie. Sometimes the narration seems unnecessary, as the action on the screen is enough to tell what is going on. “The Walk” also doesn’t quite achieve its soaring aspirations in some parts, but it makes a solid effort.

Overall, “The Walk” is a spectacle to see, however those afraid of heights should use caution. Not only does it fantastically retell the death-defying dreams of one man, but there is a satisfying respect paid toward the Twin Towers; Zemeckis dedicated this movie to the victims of the September 11 attacks. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Daruisz Wolski, the historic event is brought to life with a dream-like spin, keeping things fresh without being a fact-heavy documentary, but an inspiring true tale of the American Dream.