The Walker

2008-06-20 15:40
What it's about:

Carter Page III (Woody Harrelson) is a walker: he accompanies the society ladies of Washington when their powerful husbands aren't available to escort them around town. Because he's gay, the husbands who run Washington and corporate America find him no threat. But Carter's luxury lifestyle is thrown into turmoil when one of his charges and best friend Lynn Lockner (Kristen Scott Thomas) discovers her lovers' dead body before an afternoon of pleasure. Lynn convinces Carter to tell the police he discovered the body and hide her involvement in any scandal. But what was thought to be an uncomplicated favour spirals into a labyrinth of lies, greed and corporate corruption when Carter becomes the prime suspect in the murder investigation.

What we think of it:

Given the continuous media outings of corrupt civil servants in our very own press, South Africans will be able to identify with the absorbing topic of backroom dealings and hushed social scandals (some, like those driving luxury cars, from personal experience). Everybody loves a good drama filled with cheating spouses, corrupt government officials, greed, deceit and murder. The Walker certainly has all of the above, but incredibly slow pacing wrecks a perfectly good film.

While screenwriter/director Paul Schrader is a brilliant writer (Taxi Driver 1976, Raging Bull 1980 and Affliction 1998, to name a few), The Walker doesn't even match up to Schrader's own American Gigolo (1980) middling standards. The plot may be similar, but it's not as slick or stylish. It's hard to feel for the characters or be drawn into the action, and even during moments when the pace picks up slightly, The Walker simply ambles along and never quite hooks you.

But special mention needs to be made of sterling performances by acting veterans Lauren Bacall and Lily Tomlin as the upper-crust "ladies of leisure". They exude wily, elitist vanity with such refinement and effortlessness it makes your skin crawl. Unfortunately we've come to expect more from Kristen Scott Thomas who seems to only serve as a pretty decoration on the arm of her gay BFF. And speaking of decoration, Woody Harrelson lays on a thick toupee and an annoyingly heavy Southern accent. Schrader may have thought the Southern mumbling necessary for the advancement of Carter's pointless rich-little-family-black-sheep subplot, simply being camp would've sufficed.

This undramatic drama is a long way from brilliant, and you might find yourself dosing off a little.

- Megan Kakora

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An escort to Washington's society ladies is drawn into a labyrinth of lies, greed and murder when he tries to save his best friend's reputation.

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