(M) Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kinglsey

by Ben McEachen

Live your dream or die trying. That's how French performer Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) walked in the 1970s, obsessed with tightroping between the newly erected Twin Towers.

Petit's exploits were broadcast in consummate documentary Man on Wire (2008). While Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis shelving motion-capture is welcomed, why he had to turn Man on Wire into a feature remains unclear.

The subject matter grabs attention and its celebration of selfishness as self-realisation taps the zeitgeist. But fact becoming fictionalised dilutes our investment in Petit's quest. Without a documentary's potent intimacy, The Walk endorses a shallow character who embraces only himself and his ambition. Reasons to care are smug and uncultivated.

Gordon-Levitt's vaudeville shtick – think Hit Record on TV with an outrageously likeable French accent – brings smiles and zest. He befits Zemeckis playing The Walk like a polished crime caper. But from the funk-doobiest soundtrack to fabricated obstacles, movie conventions further minimise deep engagement.

Be sure to stay until the vertigo-inducing 3D finale, though. That's a walk to remember.

This review was originally published in The Big Issue. Click here to check it out.

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