There are some men in Hollywood we just love to underestimate. Ben Stiller is one of them.
For many he’ll always just be the mainstream comedy actor from MEET THE FOCKERS. It is easy to forget he is also a director and producer. In THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, he’s all three at once…and very successfully too.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY follows daydreamer Walter Mitty (Stiller) who habitually escapes his bland, anonymous existence via vivid heroic and romantic fantasies. When his livelihood at Life magazine is threatened by the dreaded “.com”, he is forced to realise these imaginations to locate a famous intrepid photographer in the hopes of saving his job.
Stiller may be known for his comedic traits, yet viewers should be prepared; WALTER MITTY is less obvious than his usual comedy. While frequently chuckle-worthy, it is essentially a more dramatic piece.
Positively dripping in symbolism, the flick has plenty of messages for those willing to see them. Thankfully, however, it manages to avoid a decent into preaching.
For fans of visual splendour, WALTER MITTY is like Christmas come early. It’s saturated imagery (perhaps in homage to the old Lomography film photography now being digitally exploited by the likes of Instagram) is positively sumptuous to behold, as is the careful composition.
Each shot has the intricate consideration of a photograph (highly appropriate considering the film’s subject matter) with the added bonus of cleverly choreographed movement.
The integration of typography into images is also highly creative, and incredibly relevant in today’s text-obsessed society.
In a nutshell: THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY looks bloody brilliant.
The casting is delightful. Stiller’s transformation from lifeless drone to enlightened adventurer is utterly convincing – despite the purposefully fantastical element to the film. Kristen Wiig is so wonderful in her role I could just wrap her in a bow and eat her, and Shirley MacLaine (whilst sadly under used) leaves a welcome warm and fuzzy mark on the movie.
But even the vivid visuals and the charming cast are outshined by one winning factor… The music. Holy moly, have we got one sensational soundtrack here: Santa, add that to my Christmas list!
With just the right amount of “indie-feel” to embody the off-the-wall spirit of the film, the music often dominates scenes – but in a good way. It dominates without distracting.
The film’s final chapter is perhaps a little drawn out, with hints of cheese in the dialogue of the boardroom confrontation, but as the rest of the film is so darn uplifting, I can forgive this small oversight.
It’s 500 DAYS OF SUMMER meets WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE meets INTO THE WILD.
Visually sumptuous, WALTER MITTY positively oozes magic and charm. I’m feeling pretty darn inspired; like the universe is mine for the taking. It’s a treat for the eyes and the soul.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY: Right up my alley. I award it 8 stars.