Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Animated Menu; Director Paul Schrader Q&A With Mark Kermode Recorded At The BFI Southbank; Behind The Scenes Featurette; Photo Gallery; Special Features Running Time 70 Minutes.
WOODY Harrelson delivers a powerhouse performance in Paul Schrader’s The Walker but the film sadly lacks the quality of screenplay needed to do it justice.
The former Cheers star plays Carter Page III, a Washington-based ‘walker’ who makes a living from escorting the wives of rich, famous men to social events and hosting a weekly card game for his favourites – namely Natalie (Lauren Bacall), Abigail (Lily Tomlin) and Lynn (Kristin Scott Thomas) – where they can safely trade scandalous gossip.
When Lynn inadvertently stumbles upon the body of her lobbyist lover, however, Page foolishly agrees to claim the discovery as his own – placing himself at the centre of a murder investigation that undermines his own social standing.
With few real friends to count on, Page attempts to solve the crime with the help of his gay lover.
For all its mystery and intrigue, Schrader’s film feels like a pretty arduous slog to reach the finishing line.
Many of the themes the director explored in movies like American Gigolo and Light Sleeper are present and correct – but they seem a little stale this time around.
Perhaps it’s the inherent coldness of its characters or the fact that we’ve been here one too many times before but The Walker simply fails to keep you hooked over the course of its interminable running time.
There are nods to global politics and potshots at the US administration but they’re not saying anything new, which makes the important tone seem more than a little self-indulgent on Schrader’s part.
It leaves you feeling sorry for Harrelson, who really does give everything for the sake of the role (even removing his wig to reveal advanced baldness early on). His portrayal of Page mixes outward charisma with inner hurt and a determination not to be thrown to the wolves.
But when even the likes of Bacall and Tomlin are left to flounder in thankless roles, and Thomas appears to be on autopilot in yet another ice maiden role, it’s a thankless task.
The Walker therefore winds up being an unsatisfying experience that’s yet another case of a great performance being let down by an indifferent movie.
Running time: 108mins