Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A don't-miss surprise: Anna Mastro & Paul Shoulberg's original movie-movie, WALTER

What an enjoyable, unique and smart little movie is WALTER, a film as psychologically on-the-mark as it is a real "movie-movie." It's also, by the way, a perfect example of the kind of film that TrustMovies lives for but sees damned little of: It asks you to trust it; you do, and then it appears to betray that trust and yet, in reality, does nothing of the sort. In fact, it makes you realize anew how movies are able to pull you in to their unique universe -- hook, line and sinker -- making you believe things you never would in real life but here accept as gospel because it's, hey, just a movie, so let's go along with it. And then it turns those tables.

The product of screen writer Paul Shoulberg and director Anna Mastro (shown at left), Walter begins as one thing and ends as quite another. Yet the transition is wonderfully seamless and, after the fact, the more you consider the movie, the better it becomes. To detail the plot would be to give far too much away. So let's just say that this film involves a ghost, god, heaven and hell -- all things that, unreal as they are on one level, nonetheless remain terribly important to so many people. Certainly they do to the movie's titular hero, Walter (a memorable job by Andrew J. West, shown below and evidently best known for that tiresome, zombies-forever Walking Dead series. If you enjoy this series, you owe it to yourself to see Mr. West's work here).

In one of those lovely synchronicities that feed creative endeavors, much of the movie is set in a movie theater where Walter works and where some of the excellent supporting cast circle around him.

These include his boss (a funny and surprisingly caring Jim Gaffigan), his nemesis (the sexy, smarmy Milo Ventimiglia) and his beauteous lady love (Leven Ramblin, above, left, and last seen to excellent effect in 7 Minutes).

Also on hand are several other first-class performers, each of whom adds luster and pizazz to these polished proceedings. Justin Kirk (above, left) plays that aforementioned ghost with the necessary annoyance and angst, while William H. Macy (below) offers another of his very funny and intelligent performances as the psychiatrist to whom Walter turns to rid himself of that ghost.

Virginia Madsen portrays our hero's frustrated mother with the proper sublimated craziness; Neve Campbell enchants, as usual, as a woman out of Walter's submerged past; and best of all perhaps is Peter Facinelli as the absent dad who keeps returning via flashback to create someone memorable, charismatic and sad.

Humanist down to its delectable toes, Walter, the movie as well as the character, is a kind of puzzle -- but it's one you won't comprehend as such until, suddenly, you do. It's a movie about the movie experience, and how we give over our trust to something that may seem pure fantasy -- quixotic and even silly -- in order to learn and better understand the world around us, along with the fantasies that world promotes as well as the reality beneath the fantasy. By doing so, we're as entertained as we are enriched.

You can catch Walter now on DVD via Netflix (I hope it'll stream eventually) and from Amazonfor either purchase or rental.  

No comments: