A big small postcard film. About getting out of your head and stepping out into the cold harsh winds. Take a chance. Live a little. See the real world, see what all the fuss is about. You only die once.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty definitely has got a lot of heart. It starts off dreary, burps up a few comedic shots, and then charges headlong with a full steam of living in the moment. Go there, do that. For all the fantasy, its sparse, economic turn on words plays tribute and signs a love letter to the death of LIFE magazine.
The LIFE motto, "To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life." gets dropped a few times to remind you about the MacGuffin that adds a few knocks to living a life.
Ben Stiller takes Walter Mitty's journey in a normal, unassuming stride. Great and underplayed in one scene, elaborate and goofy the next. Letting this version of a mid-life evaluation take things across the borders where the action of inaction shapes the day.
Adam Scott, as Ted Hendricks, is a walking distraction whenever he appears with that BILLY MAYS facial pelt. It's both too thick and too dark. Its curls look rather untoward and matted in forest weave. The mere sight of it looks like it's waiting for the next scene where it will jump off his face, lunge onto Mitty and start smothering the daydreamer, tearing out his hair and eyebrows because in a land of hair, only one will reign.
Beautifully shot, it's a gorgeous film that hangs its weight on taking up the full widescreen experience. Landscapes and wide angles are plentiful, brimming the edges and you're there stretching your eyeballs in order to catch it all. Thankfully, the filmmakers take a deep breath every time you're in a new location. You savour the environment, the atmosphere, the busy quiet that unfolds a bright canvas in the darkness.
Wonderfully presented as it is, the exotic locations give off a sense of loneliness and calm. From mountain to mountain, through the desolation of snow and remote locales, there's a distinct lack of suburban and city noise once Mitty gets on a plane. (This not including the times when he's back in New York.) There is a rest scene at a food place while travelling, but its position in the film highlights how much space the rest of it is allowed. It charts Mitty from being alone in his thoughts to being alone in his travels and back to the end after seeing how reality compares to his imagination.
The soundtrack is damn uplifting and a delight of smiles to fade into. A cloud of lofty wants and mood, successfully laying you down in a feel good afterwash.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a wonderful, small and sweet film. Sit back and soak it in. Largest screen you can find if possible. Maybe you should take the time to watch the end credits as well.
Reviewed on Monday, 13 January 2014