Walking Out Review
Walking Out (2017), Film Review from the 33rd Annual Sundance Film Festival, a movie directed by Alex Smith and Andrew J. Smith, starring Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman, Alex Neustaedter, and Lily Gladstone.
It’s not every day that filmgoers encounter a film like Walking Out, a truly focused study of the relationship between an estranged father and son. It doesn’t inundate the audience with action scenes or assault their senses. Rather, it asks for an emotional commitment to the intense emotional conversations, memories, and damage that the characters must sort through. This isn’t a film for everybody, but it is rewarding for those who are patient.
Caught between his parents’ divorce, David (Josh Wiggins) flies out to Montana for his annual visit with his father, Cal (Matt Bomer), who’s planned a father-son hunting trip. David has little interest in hunting, but Cal insists on recreating the memories for his son that were afforded to him by his own deceased father, Clyde (Bill Pullman). Together, they must learn how to connect and depend on each other as they take on the foreboding wilderness in which they become lost – a monumental task that becomes nearly impossible when both father and son become wounded in a freak accident involving a bear and a rifle. How are they to walk out with such handicaps? It will take their emotional strength and bond to overcome the physical limitations that now inhibit their chances of survival.
Obviously, the film’s physical challenges symbolize the various emotional mountains they both must climb in order to overcome the debilitating emotional wilderness and isolation they feel as father and son. Part of their estrangement is generational; a fight over an iPhone and references to driving a stick shift feel a bit convenient and lazy, though this is buffeted by the especially powerful flashbacks to time Cal spent with Clyde. The growing acceptance of David for who he is by Cal over the course of the trip is conveyed quite well by Bomer, who takes a literal backseat to Wiggins in the final third of the film. Though Cal has the physical eyes to see, it is Wiggins who carries father and son over the emotional threshold they’ve been aiming for. The connection is brief and painful, but sweet, and David walks away with memories that will last him a lifetime.
This is a decent feature film by the Smith brothers. Its pace is sluggish, testing even my patience at times, though the payoff is worth it. The biggest gripe I have with the film is its downright awful score which is not only completely inappropriate to the film’s themes and content but also irritating beyond belief. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around what the composer and directors were thinking on that one.
Walking Out is screening at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in the competitive U.S. Dramatic competition category and has yet to be acquired for distribution.
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Image Source: Sundance Institute