The Walker

Film, Drama
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The Walker

Paul Schrader once characterised the life of his breakthrough character, Travis Bickle, as one of ‘self-imposed loneliness’. It’s a nice formulation; loneliness, unlike solitude, is never enjoyable, and the men in Schrader’s screenplays insist on pushing happiness away. After ‘Taxi Driver’ came ‘American Gigolo’, whose story of high-society narcissism and killing makes it the most obvious companion to ‘The Walker’, but such self-indulgent melancholy is also probed in ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Mishima’, ‘Light Sleeper’, ‘Auto Focus’ and numerous other Schrader stories.

This one is set in Washington, DC. Woody Harrelson plays Carter Page III, an inside outsider, proud black sheep of a blue-blood Virginian clan that counts slave holdings and Nixon-baiting among its accomplishments. Our Carter is a ‘walker’, a sort of kept companion for society widows political and literal, a witty homosexual of the old school with a diligently maintained sanctum (another must for Schrader’s men) amid whose lacquered chinoiserie he tends his toupée as a samurai would his sword. His tidy, unfulfilled life is upended, his transition from mascot to scapegoat begun, when he agrees to tell the police he, rather than one of his companions (Kristin Scott Thomas), has discovered the body of her lover.

The conspiracy plot that follows is both convoluted and unengaging, unfolding with an odd, almost period feel; the Bryan Ferry soundtrack compounds an ’80s mood that jars awkwardly with present-day references. Harrelson, however, proves a tremendous asset. In his delicate, cagey performance, decorated with a Southern drawl, Carter’s vocational bonhomie is shown to be as efficient a blockade to meaningful sociability as Bickle’s messianic zeal or Jake La Motta’s infantile wrath. Uneasy around the boyfriend he can’t quite bring himself to acknowledge, Carter is utterly at home gossiping with Scott Thomas, Lily Tomlin and Lauren Bacall – and could you ask for better canasta partners than that prize kennel of bitches? ‘I’ll tell you a personal story,’ a typical gambit begins. ‘Not about me, of course…

’‘I’m not naive,’ our anti-hero rightly insists, ‘I’m superficial.’ ‘The Walker’ is at its best observing surfaces: there’s a telling scene played out while shopping for upholstery, for instance, and a neat, wordless exchange ahead of a public appearance when Carter’s lawyer hands him a stars-and-stripes pin and he tags it to his lapel without breaking step. A shame, though, that the movie’s other pleasures don’t run deeper. Ben Walters

By: Ben Walters


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday August 10 2007
Duration: 109 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Paul Schrader
Screenwriter: Paul Schrader
Cast: Woody Harrelson
Kristin Scott Thomas
Lauren Bacall
Ned Beatty
Moritz Bleibtreu
Mary Beth Hurt
Lily Tomlin
Willem Dafoe
William Hope
Geff Francis
Steven Hartley
Garrick Hagon
Michael J Reynolds

Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Woody Harrelson says he is not naive but superficial in the character of Carter Paigelll,the homosexual escort of society women whose husbands are in politics.And as Pope said of women mostly,'they have no character at all' we could apply this description to Carter. He provides the chance for his lady friends to indulge in gossip and witty bitching once a week over canasta.The exteriors and surface textures are emphasised and his beautiful apartment sanctum.Harrelson has crafted a smooth,courteous southern gentlemanly grace of manner.He has a private lover who does risque photos based on Abu Graib and he stays near Carter hoping he gets him a gallery space.Carter is immaculately turned out as Gere was in American Gigolo and cultivates his garb anally.He covers for Lynn(Scott Thomas) who comes upon the murder of her escort lover and takes the flak from the Feds and Washington.He is dropped like a hot potato by his 'society' friends.He is catigated as being unworthy of his father,a wealthy democrat,who baited Nixon. HoweverThe Walker" is a quietly enthralling film because it contains the murder and the investigation within Carter's smooth calm.Under stress he becomes a loyal friend and detaches himself from the paranoid hypocrises of the political elite. Although the film is not as political as it thinks it is the performance of Harrelson pitched somewhere between Marlon Brando and Truman Capote, is an exquisite pleasure to behold.This is a minor film but far better than the majority of films released in a year.

Fantastic, subtle political analysis of the new America , sinister and imperial. Woody Harellsons' performace is brilliant.

Fantastic, subtle political analysis of the new America , sinister and imperial. Woody Harellsons' performace is brilliant.