PAUL SCHRADER’S THE WALKER

Last Updated: November 6, 2007By

(by Ali Naderzad, SCREEN COMMENT) The lonely man trilogy is complete, long live the Lonely Man trilogy! Started in 1980 with American Gigolo, followed by Light Sleeper in 1992, director Paul Schrader’s inquiry into the mind of Julian Kaye—the protagonist in American Gigolo—is, for all intents and purposes, concluded. This new mystery-thriller (THINKFilm) is very much reminiscent of American Gigolo in plot and character but rather than repeating the past, Schrader rather reincarnated the character of Julian Kaye as Carter Page (Woody Harrelson). ‘Several years ago I was wondering what might have become of the Julian Kaye character in American Gigolo in midlife,’ Schrader commented. ‘That’s when I first got the idea for The Walker. I surmised he would probably be out of the closet, something like a society walker. His skills would have become more social rather than sexual. This struck me as an interesting metaphor.’ Woody Harrelson’s Carter Page is the genteel and mildly aristochratic (and of course, witty) card game companion of bored wives. Of relevance is the fact that these well-heeled ladies are married to some of the most powerful political figures on Capitol Hill. Thankfully, however, The Walker isn’t a film about political games; rather, you can expect an artfully lensed murder-mystery film. Think La Cage aux Folles meets Clue. Schrader is justifiably intent on illustrating for us the personal alliances between Harrelson’s Carter Page and his socialite friends, including Abigail Delorean (played by Lily Tomlin), Natalie Van Miter (Lauren Bacall) and Lynn Lockner (Kristin Scott Thomas). The four of them are shown playing canasta in a marvelously appointed petit salon, etc. The card game is, of course, ground zero for gossip-mongering among the elite. The point is to establish Page as the endearing confidant who holds the most irresistible secrets from inside the Beltway. But Carter Page’s loyalty is tested when he becomes mired in a scandal that would have sent anyone else scurrying for cover. His closest friend Lynn (Scott Thomas) suddenly finds herself involved in a murder investigation that could destroy her and her husband’s reputation. Page decides to cover for her, suppressing important evidence only to suddenly become the investigators’ prime suspect. Although at times it seems poised to becoming victim of its own depiction of high society superficiality and self-indulgence, outstanding performances by Kristin Scott Thomas and Woody Harrelson and a wonderful art direction make The Walker a wonderful film. Out in theaters on December 7th. © 2007 Ali Naderzad

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