DRAMA; 2hr 3min
STARRING: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon
Towering role: Gordon-Levitt
Philippe Petit’s 1974, 45-minute wire walk between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers has already been celebrated in Petit’s 2002 book and the 2008 documentary Man on Wire. But with The Walk, director Robert Zemeckis and his insectile star still have plenty to say about the why and how of Petit’s script-flipping tilt at a potentially spectacular death. “For me,” Gordon-Levitt, as Petit, explains in an excellente French lilt, “to walk on the wire is life.”
To pull off “the artistic coup of the century,” as Petit modestly describes it, involves every shade of crazy, from the cockamamie notion that performing the impossible is not just achievable but inevitable, to the chutzpah that Petit and his champions — Kingsley is his salty mentor, Papa Rudy, Le Bon his nurturing girlfriend, Annie — maintain to make it happen. Petit’s tireless strategising reveals him as a egostistic man of many compulsive parts. Only when his coup comes off does his flyaway personality make perfect sense. Stepping out into the abyss, a head-swimming 110 stories above ground, the perky outlaw is completely himself, his poise and his certainty an astonishing state of grace.