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WHAT'S NEW AT THE MOVIES?
Philippe Petit thinks of his tightrope performances as art. Taking on a high-wire task himself, Robert Zemeckis, retelling Petit’s most famous walk, creates his own art, with a 3D mastery that is nothing but depth defying and beautifully sweat provoking.
Yes, this is the story of Petit’s notorious walk between the just built towers of New York City’s World Trade Center. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, balancing the Frenchman’s arrogance and lithe charm, plays the ambitious stuntman and much of the early part of the film focuses on how Petit learned his craft and then, collected the people and plans to help him, almost literally and certainly illegally, walk on air. All of this is handled with a light grace, along with a few comic moments. We know we’re all building up to ‘the walk’, a feat every viewer knows was actually accomplished. So how does Zemeckis grab us? It’s visual. And what visual.
I can’t imagine anyone appreciating this film for the best that it is without seeing it in IMAX and 3-D. Because with a savvy understanding of the abilities of those assets, Zemeckis takes us on an extraordinary ride. With an almost restrained subtlety, he swoops and glides his cameras so that we feel we are there, even if we, unlike the lithe Petit/Gordon-Levitt aren’t so keen on hopping over the side of the tallest roof in the world.
Yes, you might feel some vertigo. And I can promise you, your hands will turn clammy (yup, mine sure did). But isn’t that why you’d go to a movie like this in the first place?
My greatest fear going in was not physical, but psychic. How, I wondered, do you make a happy, feel good movie about the Towers? And is it even appropriate? I am relieved and appreciative to report the delicacy of this is handled with a powerful dignity that left me, once again, in tears. These buildings are, indeed, with us, forever.