The Walk follows the story of Philippe Petit and his dream to walk a wire between the Twin Towers in New York. It begins in Paris where he discovers his love for walking the wire, and ends in New York where his dream is realised. For anyone who has seen the documentary Man On Wire, this is a story we've seen already, but in a different form. However, Joseph Gordon-Levitt narrates the story as it happens, making it not all that different from the documentary.
At the beginning, the story sort of stumbles over itself; he was a teenager at the beginning, then we see flashbacks of him as a kid, and then he's an adult. It wasn't very coherent, it would have made much more sense to show it chronologically. But after the first thirty minutes, it stays on track quite well. I feared that the film would memorialize the Twin Towers which would distract the story, but thankfully it didn't do that.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Phillipe Petit very well. Petit actually taught JGL how to walk the wire prior to filming, so he also got to learn Petit's characteristics, which he picked up on well. The supporting cast are also great. Ben Kinglsey and Charlotte Le Bon stand out, but no one gave a bad performance and the characters were all very well written.
I had heard a lot of talk about the height combined with the 3D effect making people nauseous, and I was quite worried about experiencing vertigo but it didn't bother me at all. Robert Zemeckis said in an interview that he wanted people to feel how high up Petit was, he wanted to put the audience on the wire with him. He accomplished that, you do feel high up but it's a different feeling to standing at the edge of a cliff. Perhaps people who fear heights may have issues.
The way in which The Walk differs from the documentary is that it's much more dramatic rather than informative, but that's what a feature film based on a true story is set out to do. Robert Zemeckis has a track record of making endearing drama films, something that is hard to come by these days. Stephen Spielberg did it in the 1980s, and not many big directors do it any more. What we have in place of accessible drama is Superhero films.
Zemeckis' films like Cast Away and Forrest Gump are accessible to children without being children's films, and I think that is his goal for every movie he makes. It makes his films memorable and unique, and this film fits right in to that category. This is the month that Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to in the future in Zemeckis' own Back to the Future part II (1989), and it's great to see that he's still around and making a great film to mark the month.