Tagline: “Stop dreaming. Start living.”
Having seen the trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I knew it was a film I’d want to see, despite not being a Ben Stiller fan at all. I have never liked any of the cheap comedies he usually stars in so I thought it’d be interesting to watch a film where he plays a more serious character. I didn’t find out until the credits rolled on screen that he’d actually directed the film as well, which made me give him even more kudos for this film. Starring alongside Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn, it is the second adaptation of the 1939 short story of the same name, after the 1947 film.
The film presents a snippet of Walter Mitty’s life: a negative assets manager at Life Magazine, with a bit of a daydreaming problem. He dozes off into a world his imagination creates where everything is possible and he is the main hero of his fantastic adventures. He develops quite the crush for one of his co-workers, Cheryl Melhoff (Wiig), although this is most definitely not a romantic film, not even remotely. Life Magazine is taken over by new ownership and for their last ever issue, he is given a set of negatives from photojournalist Sean O’Connell (Penn) – who has been working closely with Walter over the years – except negative 25 is missing, and that is exactly the one O’Connell wants to be used as the cover for the issue. Walter embarks on a journey of great proportions to the far corners of the world to find his friend and hopefully the missing negative too, discovering himself as he goes along.
I could write about this film for days, I enjoyed it so much. It was certainly a breath of fresh air seeing Ben Stiller having a go at a decent character and Kristen Wiig definitely impressed me too. I was very much aware of her comedic talent in Saturday Night Live and several similar films, and it was again refreshing to see her take her character seriously. There are, however, a few giggle-worthy moments and they couldn’t be more appropriate.
Walter’s mum (MacLaine) saves the day at the end of the film and makes his venture into the big bad world worthwhile. The scenes where Walter floats away into a daydream are very adventure film-like, and the soundtrack is truly well suited. As far as the cinematography is concerned, the fact that the image isn’t crisp and clear, but sometimes blurry and with faded colours adds to its vintage-looking feel. It also links with Walter’s job and Sean Penn’s character, who both deal with photographs and editing.
Overall, everything is well thought through in this film and although there are some modern features added to the story to fit in with current times, it all falls rightly into place. Last but not least, it has again one of my most appreciated elements – a gasp-provoking ending. I definitely recommend seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty as it might just be the feel-good film of 2013 and I guarantee it will have you coming out of the cinema screen with a smile on your face.