In Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by Daniel Goodwin on 19/12/2013

walter mitty

Despite not relating to Christmas in any way, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty feels like a near perfect film for the season with its life-affirming messages, light hearted fantasy and, er, large abundance of snow. It is also a remarkable leap forward for Ben Stiller, whose last  effort in the director’s chair yielded the juvenile Tropic Thunder. While Mitty feels like the type of film that could even win him an Oscar nomination it is also graced with an incredibly engaging yet humble lead performance.

Walter Mitty is an avid daydreamer working as a photographic archivist for Life magazine at the time leading up to the publication’s demise. After misplacing the negative of a photo to be used for the cover of the final issue, Mitty breaks from the doldrums of his routine to track down the elusive, luddite photographer Sean O’ Connell (Sean Penn) in attempt to locate the missing negative. All the while befriending a work colleague/ potential love interest (Kristen Wiig) and evading the douche-bag company restructurer (Adam Scott).

Walter Mitty could be compared with Forrest Gump in some ways, but that comparison would be unfair. While Hanks’ syrupy epic was laden with cringe-worthy one liners, Walter Mitty manages to handle its sentimentality with thoughtful restraint and a cool tone, allowing the audience to make up their own minds about how they feel rather than have their emotions toyed with by orchestral overkill. Walter Mitty has more in common with Billy Liar (1963), Being There (1979) and Big Fish (2003) with its fantastical flights of fancy, yet is a truly poignant and hilarious fantasy instead of just a muted fairytale.

The film’s main strength lies in the portrayal of and relationships between the main characters. Mitty is the solitary underdog, quietly dry witted but warm with his mother, sister and friends at work. This humility and naturalism works wonders when juxtaposed with the icy hue of the cinematography and minimalist design, it makes the film and protagonist highly likeable and multi-layered. The story slows and sags in a couple of places but there are so many wonderful moments, characters and a perfect finale, that (despite the aforementioned icy hue) it is almost impossible not to warm to.

Daniel has awarded The Secret Life of Walter Mitty  four Torches of Truth

four torches

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: