Atmospheric sci-fi, The Long Walk, takes its time with the audience as it languidly broaches upon grief and memory while asking an insurmountable amount of questions. Mattie Do’s film works on you in ways that you truly do not expect.
A man (Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy) is rumoured to be able to speak to the dead, grieving the loss of his mother; he envisions a way of travelling back to alter the past.
It could be easy to venture more into what happens in The Long Walk; however, this film requires its audience to go in as blind as possible to get the fullest appreciation from it. What lies ahead in the film asks questions of its characters and its audience. Leaving you to potentially require multiple viewings to see what answers you finally come up with, and even then, you may come up with something different than you did before.
The Long Walk is several things all at once, it can be beautiful yet haunting, disturbing yet enlightening, and that comes from the entire crew working on such a high level. There is such confidence here that you are only ever impressed by it, and while on occasion there are the odd missteps, the overall piece is as interesting a story as you will come by.
Set in the not-so-distant future, we see an old man leave an unexceptional and simple existence. He gets by just well enough to keep going, but there is a darkness within him that others are very wary of. As we see the advances of technology, to positive and negative effects, we also see how close this unassuming village is to an ultra-urban life. Like the characters, the old man sees around him present enough to see but not as obtainable as required.
Mattie Do and writer Christopher Larsen take their time in building their story in The Long Walk, and patience and concentration are required to keep yourself abreast of it all. But, once the film gets going, you are rewarded for hanging in there as all of the pieces laid carefully down beforehand make their move. Larsen ensures that his script is as open as possible with no threads being fully tied up into a bow. Instead, he leaves a variety of wonderful little breadcrumbs for us to follow, and as we contemplate them, the next one has already started to be spread around into your consciousness.
Do makes you pay attention to her film due to the visuals that she offers, and if you had not seen her previous two films before The Long Walk, this would undoubtedly make you hunt down for them pronto. However, the beauty in her work is in how simple it all appears to be, and with cinematographer Matthew Macar, they have conjured up something gorgeous in this Laotian village. Her direction is subtle, and it needs to be when coupled with such a nuanced story.
There is the temptation to write extensively about The Long Walk and spoil everything and provide opinions on what we believe it all means and maybe down the line that will happen, for now though, take with you as little information as you can before watching this fantastic film. You will be so happy you stayed clear of additional information.
The joy in The Long Walk is how original it feels, and with such an intriguing story presented in a glorious aesthetic with some great performances. Leaving it to be a film that will and deserves to find an audience and one that will have said audience reflecting long afterwards. This is an intelligent film that warrants your attention, and after waiting so long for its release, it ends up being a movie you simply cannot miss.
The Long Walk is available now digitally.
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