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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Review

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

BEN Stiller’s remake of Danny Kaye classic The Secret Life of Walter Mitty may be a fairly predictable movie in the way that it strives to be both life-affirming and inspirational but it’s directed in such a way that you won’t mind being swept along on its ride.

As emotionally engaging as it is visually spectacular, this marks an impressive next step for Stiller as both an actor and director.

And it also boasts a heart-melting performance from Kirsten Wiig as the main romantic interest as well as likeable support from the likes of Sean Penn, Adrian Martinez and even Adam Scott as a bearded corporate executive.

The story follows mild-mannered, socially awkward Life magazine worker Walter Mitty (Stiller) as, faced with impending redundancy, he embarks on a mission aimed at recovering a lost photo negative from renowned photographer Sean O’Connell (Penn), for the magazine’s last issue, while trying to impress a beautiful co-worker (Wiig) and emerge from his inner shell.

In doing so, Mitty transforms from a serial loner prone to taking flights of fantasy in his own mind (or zone outs) to someone willing to grab life by the horns and truly live for the moment.

Early on, Stiller combines intimate scenes of Mitty’s closed existence with several effects laden sequences involving his departure from reality. But as Mitty moves away from the imagined to the real, he fills the screen with stunning shots of the locations that he goes to (Greenland, Iceland and The Himalayas), all of which should leave an indelible impression on viewers, particularly when backed by such an impressive accompanying soundtrack.

Whether Stiller meant it or not, the shift also serves as an interesting comment on the current state of blockbuster filmmaking, where effects often overtake the real and leave you pining for something more tangible. Thanks to Stuart Dryburgh’s breathtaking cinematography it’s easy to get lost in some of the natural environments that Mitty visits and such sequences elevate and enrich the overall experience.

Yet Stiller also remains careful not to lose sight of the emotions at play and expertly combines some amusing scenes with some that are more unexpectedly poignant. He is always engaging as Mitty, possessing the right kind everyman qualities to offset some of his quirks. Wiig, meanwhile, lends the film its heart and soul and is an enchanting presence whenever on-screen.

If the main arc conforms to a tried and tested formula for feel-good filmmaking, it’s done so well that you won’t mind being in such familiar emotional terrain. For Stiller has delivered a hugely enjoyable crowd-pleasing movie that ticks all the right boxes for this kind of thing.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 114mins
UK Release Date: December 26, 2013