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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Film Review

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by Juran Hakim (subscribe)
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Published January 22nd 2014
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An abstract insight into the mind of a middle aged man whom has never dared to live his dreams, but instead is content to sit behind a desk and hope.

The opening scene of the lead character Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), sitting behind his sorrowful looking desk; greying walls and neatly adjusted files, the look of which seems to absorb any and all life forms in proximity - Walter staring cautiously at his open laptop, sighing briefly after checking his money transactions, hesitating to click the 'wink' option to a female member on eHarmony, quintessentially summarises his life's dilemmas.

The additional noteworthy aspect of this exposition is that after the initial hesitation, Walter finally click's the 'wink' option, only to be told 'Unable to perform request'. Ben Stiller directs this movie in such a way that it centralises around the secrecy or uniqueness that is Walter Mitty; the daydreams he experiences causes him to let go of his inhibitions and reticence, and unleash an urge that his inner self strifes to succeed.

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The woman of his dreams Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig) is a work colleague at Life magazine and proves to be an important figure in the realisation of Mitty's life. As the company undergoes changes to management and staff members jobs are on the line, Walter, who is in charge of directing photo units or negative assets, misplaces an important photograph destined to be on the front cover of Life magazine's final issue before it moves into online publication.

As pressure builds around him, more fantasies of flight, action and triumph with work and his non-starting lovelife take place, until Walter finally decides to take action. After guessing and second guessing himself, Walter grabs his coat and sets out to locate the elusive photographer Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn), to find where the missing photo that is 'negative 25' must be.

I think its paramount to add that the roll of negative film sent to Walter Mitty's desk by Sean O'Connell, also included a gift from him; a wallet with the inscription of Life's motto:

"To see the world, things dangerous to come to,
to see behind walls, to draw closer,

to find each other and to feel.
That is the purpose of life."

Walter thus begins a journey that takes him to the far reaches of Iceland, Afghanistan, Greenland. Walter finds himself escaping the jaws of a shark and the thick dust clouds of an erupting volcano. Each event experienced imbues Walter with a sense of purpose and dignity, that of which he has never experienced before.

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A comparison towards the film Forrest Gump (Zemeckis, 1994) can be appreciated in the sense of characterisation; both Walter and Forest are very similar, and their outcome shares a lot of similarities too. In conclusion Ben Stiller does a great job in directing and a better job in acting. This film contains aspects of comedy, action and romance blended together to create a special, albeit unusual, filmic experience.
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When: Now showing
Where: In cinemas
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