Friday, December 7, 2007

The Walker

Paul Schrader has penned some great scripts (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ), he also wrote Light of Day (and directed Cat People). The Walker, which Schrader wrote and directed, falls somewhere in between.

Carter “Carr” Page III (Woody Harrelson) is an escort to the wealthy and influential woman of Washington D.C. He’s what is known as a “walker,” he walks ladies from place to place providing company, juicy gossip, and companionship. Although he delights in telling his clients about the hot topics in our nation’s capitol, he speaks very little of his own life or of his long time relationship to a struggling artist (Moritz Bleibtreu). To some he’s an acquaintance, to others an embarrassment of his name and the legacy of his father. Harrelson does well in balancing the different facets of the character who will turn the other cheek and offer a smile even in the most dangerous circumstances.

Carr’s life is thrown for a loop when his favorite client (Kristin Scott Thomas) finds her lover murdered. Unable to stand the scandal it would deal to her and her Congressman husband (Willem Dafoe) she refuses to call the police, leaving Carr to do it. A District Attorney (William Hope) and a Detective (Geff Francis) smelling scandal and headlines go hard after Carr and his life of ease and leisure comes to an end.

There are many good things to say about the film. The look and feel of the characters and setting have style (too bad there isn’t more substance). There are several good, though not great supporting peformances from the likes of Lauren Bacall, Ned Beatty, and Lily Tomlin.

Although much works, there is just as much that doesn’t. Harrelson is good in the more comedic parts of the film but struggles with the more dramatic scenes (and his accent leaves a little to be desired). The story contains good elements but they don’t seem to lead anywhere as a character study is quickly dropped for a run of the mill murder flick taken from the perspective of one of the suspects - the least interesting and informed perspective you can have in such a film.

Although there are several elements here the film just never clicked for me. I think the movie is worth seeing, though I wouldn’t actively seek it out as you will probably have to do for this small independent film which will play mostly in art houses. Gossip, whispering campaigns, and a rather uninspired murder mystery don’t add up to much more than casual fancy, and sadly, in the end, that’s all The Walker really is.

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