2007 - United States - 108 minutes
Director and Writer - Paul Schrader
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
UrbanDictionary.com defines "walker" as "A man, asexual or homosexual, who can safely escort a woman, married or otherwise, to a social event, without hint of suspicion or relationship beyond friendship. A safe male companion." with the accompanying note:
"Before becoming so waspish, Truman Capote was a reliable walker for Park Avenue society matrons." This film is a look at the life of such a man.
Carter Page, III is a rich ne'er-do-well in Washington, D.C. who spends his time socializing with the wives of the Capital's elite. Carter's father was a powerful congressman for whom - even after his death - Carter harbors hate and resentment. Carter's father disliked and chided him for his sexuality and aimless existence. In DC society, Carter is reminded almost daily of his father's reputation as a respected congressman. His confidential reply to friends is that his father left congress many times richer than when he entered and honor had nothing to do with that reality.
Carter has an on and off relationship with a struggling artist but is not willing to give up his glamorous life as a walker in order to commit to a long-term bond with the other man.
One of the favors he performs for the wife of Larry Lockner, the minority leader of the Senate, is to drive her to assignations with her lobbyist lover. On one of these occasions, Lynn returns to the car in a state of shock having found her lover murdered. She begs Carter not to call the police and to drive her home. Carter does so and then returns to the apartment of the murdered man, calls the police, and says that it was he who discovered the body.
Carter immediately falls under suspicion and spends the rest of the film in an attempt to unravel the truth of the murder. During that time, he is basically forsaken by all of his "friends" in the DC scene with his lover, Emek being his only true support.
Twenty-eight years ago, Paul Schrader directed American Gigolo. This film calls up many of the elements of that earlier success. It is a beautifully worked tale of an outsider sought out by insiders who finds himself in a situation where support is needed but none comes from those who are able to exercise to greatest amount of power. We are privy to the private life of the man - one that he never exposes to the outside world. And we find that this man who is supposedly immoral - or, at least, amoral - is the most moral of them all.
The Walker is filled with well-known stars starting with Woody Harrelson in the leading role. I was somewhat put off by his heavy Southern Virginia accent, but in retrospect, such an affected way of speech might be actually observed in such a man - think of Truman Capote. In any case, Harrelson gives a wonderfully restrained performance far different from most of his characters. He enables you to understand and care for Carter.
Lauren Bacall is always a treat to watch, and she gives this film a wonderful Washington grande dame who is so wise to the ways of all yet not totally immune to the forces of the tides of opinion.
Carter's friend, Lynn is played by Kristin Scott Thomas, and her character is probably the most complex in the film. She surely is an actress who can portray such a character with great insight.
Add Lily Tomlin as another DC socialite, Ned Beatty as her powerful businessman husband, and Willem Dafoe as Lynn's ruthless politician husband and you can hardly go wrong with the spate of great performances.
The Walker has numerous references to the evilness and deceit of the current administration but gives all politics, politicians, and their supporters their honest due. It entertains and causes you to think. For what more could you ask?
June 2, 2008