Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale
Based on a real life story of soaring ambition of French funambulist Philippe Petit who walked a tightrope secretly rigged between the two towers of World Trade Center in New York in 1974, Robert Zemeckis gives us a measure of Petit’s flamboyant persona as he revisits for what is often described as the artistic crime of the century.
Petit calls it a coup. The film is far from it but has enough material to keep you engaged for two hours. Told as a crime caper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt lives the levity that Zemeckis conjures up on screen. He expresses the edginess that a dream that many call madness can lead to. Charlotte Le Bon adds to the charm as his lady love and Ben Kingsley lends the depth as the circus artist who imparts crucial lessons to Petit on the ground beneath the tight rope walker. When he says arrogance can play havoc when you are wending in thin air, it sticks and reminds that beyond the giddying story of audacity and ability, it is also a tribute to the iconic landmark, which was brought down in 2001.
In films like Cast Away or The Martian you have a big event in the beginning and then holding the grip for the rest of the film becomes a challenge. Here it is the other way round. You have to build up in such a way that when you reach those 20 minutes of brilliance there are audiences who are awake to applaud the technical wizardry.
Zemeckis is expected to hold on, on the tightrope walk between a heart rending emotional tale and eye popping special effect driven set pieces, between an internalised biopic and a larger than life piece which threatens to give you vertigo. And the director does a fairly good balancing act but when you remove the flesh and come down to the wire, you realise that the director is smitten by CGI imagery. No crime, but it makes the work of an artist, who always maintained that he is not a circus clown, a little gimmicky or what you loosely call Hollywoodish. It becomes all the more apparent for those who have watched James Marsh’s astonishing Oscar winning documentary on the subject.