Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Man On Wire - Review by Marjorie Gallagher

Director: James Marsh

Running Time: 118 mins

Certificate: 12A

Released: 1st August

The following review was originally published in the print edition of Montage at the Edinburgh Internation Film Festival 2008.

Why would a man want to string a wire between two of the tallest buildings in New York City and walk across it? No safety net, no nothing. There is no why, it’s living on the very edge of life according to Philippe Petit, who did just that in 1974 and captured it all in this fascinating documentary Man on Wire. As soon as he read about the construction of the World Trade Centre Petit knew it had been made just for him. There's documentary footage of Petit as he walks between the spires of Notre Dame and across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, whilst onlookers gape in horror on the streets below. But this is nothing compared to his piece de resistance. Using footage, surreal stills and staging reconstructions that play out like a 1950’s heist movie, James Marsh creates a documentary that is endlessly fascinating and entertaining.

1 comment:

Peter Gerard said...

The story is indeed fascinating and Petit's passion for storytelling makes Man on Wire an engaging film.

However, I think it's necessary to address the inconsistent lack of polish in such a lauded film. While the archive material was beautiful and the re-enactments were generally quite good, the atrocious 3D motion graphics (esp. the plane flying back and forth across the Atlantic) soiled the canvas of the motion picture. Ugh.

And the way they flippantly dismissed the emotional pain of the ends of Petit's friendships was rather strange. The fact that he fell out with all his friends is obviously an important part of the story, and the brief hint at this without any explanation is a wasted opportunity.

It strikes me that what people are really excited about in this film is Petit's story, not the film itself. Petit is indeed a talented storyteller, but Marsh has some work to do.