The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: The Quiet Masterpiece
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a masterpiece that audiences passed by.
A few months ago I learned a lesson about judging a film by compiled critic consensus sites like Rotten Tomatoes. The lesson learned came about from the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and its less than stellar approval rating. Because of its rating, I put this film on my backburner but once I finally got around to seeing it, I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” While I could understand the formulaic approach from which critics passed judgement, I believe this film transcends these standards of judgement.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 4.5
Often films are referred to as a cinematic experience yet few live up to the “experience” aspect. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” encapsulates the meaning of experience by creating a surreal yet relatable journey of instantaneous transcendence from mundane to monumental.
I think that many critics didn’t understand the pace of Walter’s journey and this is why the reviews were so mixed. The film begins with an introduction to Walter’s routine life at a very slow progression. During the introductory development of Walter Mitty we are shown brief glimpses of his distaste for routine through an elaborate string of daydreams where he fantasizes about a more exciting life. The moment that seems to have thrown most critics off is the abrupt transition into Walter’s journey.
In search of a missing photo for Life Magazine (Walter’s employer), Walter immediately hops on a plane traveling the world in search of the photographer. This moment is so abrupt that you’re taken off guard due to the character they’ve developed thus far. There’s no reason or logic behind Walter’s spur of the moment actions but this is the intended purpose of the film. Walter has been trapped in this life longing for something greater and this immediate jump into his journey signifies the theme of the film which is “it’s never too late to change your life.”
The moments that follow are indeed unbelievable at times but that disbelief reinforces the endless possibilities waiting for anyone taking that metaphorical “leap of faith.” Walter’s journey is accompanied by a plethora of vastly vivid, beautifully shot landscapes. These shots establish a sense of harmonious wonder for anyone who may feel confined by their own lives. These open, isolated landscapes act as a metaphorical representation of how small we are in comparison to the rest of the world. This further reinforces the insignificance of the dull day jobs that sustain a confined lifestyle that many feel unsatisfied with and want to aspire to more.
”The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” finds its footing not from breakthrough performances or socially significant plot milestones. Instead it establishes itself through its underlying theme of unexpected aspirations that evolve from ethereal fantasy into a fulfilling reality.
Entertainment Value – 4
It goes without saying that “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is entertaining. The stunning landscapes, imaginative daydreams, and varying moments of disbelief make this a superiorly engaging experience.
Walter’s mentality is relatable to a majority of people in his situation which allows many to feel as if they’re accompanying him on his journey. This relationship between the audience and Walter supplements viewer engagement making the film that much more entertaining.
Rewatchability – 4
You would think that after receiving the message “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was sending it would lose its luster, but this is not the case. The cinematic journey from drab to vibrant still invokes an emotional response. As you see the camera frame progressively expand from a concise introverted view of routine life into a vividly vast landscape of exploration, you’re visually taken on Walter’s transformative journey. With this type of eye candy, it’s a journey that you can relive multiple times.
- Entertainment Value
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a perfect blend of enriching cinematics and entertainment. It doesn't follow a traditional flow of progression like many other acclaimed films, but its stray from the path makes it both creative and original. There may not be a particular film element that shines in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," but these elements in unison create a cinematic journey that fits perfectly together like a puzzle.
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