The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Review)

I know it’s been a while since this movie has been released but I hadn’t found the time to write a few words about it, until now… The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller and directed by the actor himself, is an American film based on James Thurber’s homonymous 1939 short story. The film is also the remake of the original 1947 Technicolor comedy.

The plot follows Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, a negative assets manager at Life magazine who has a crush on his co-worker Cheryl, played by Kristen Wiig. The peculiar thing about this character is the fact that daydreaming is his everyday habit. He constantly imagines himself as part of these fantastic adventures which unravel any time or place before his eyes.

In the real world outside of his fantasies, Mitty leads a dull, uneventful life; that is until the point he has to save the magazine’s final print issue before its closure. On an unusual trip to find photojournalist Sean O’Connell, played by Sean Penn, he will finally get to live his own adventure, for real this time. However, the road seems endless and the chances of finding O’Connell’s lost photo negative look slim.

This inspiring comedy-drama is capable of drawing the audience in, with the peaceful landscapes of Greenland and the frosty mountains of Iceland setting the scenery. Watching the film allows us to retrospect, looking back on the times when we didn’t act but instead stood still, inspiring us to aim high and turn our dreams into reality. As Mitty is about to find out, instead of living life through the pages of a magazine, he ought to be living it to the fullest. Furthermore, the film offers an insight to the making of a magazine and the way that people dedicate their lives to building it up (only to see it die some years later).

Ben Stiller’s acting is exceptional; he is capable of moving the audience, despite the fact that we are used to seeing him in less serious, comic roles. Sean Penn’s small part is also a crucial one for the plot as he manages to portray a very accurate image of the “hippy” photojournalist who lives for the moment and captures nature’s rare beauty through his lens. The rest of the cast is more than competent to live up to the viewers’ expectations; especially Shirley MacLaine who was happy enough to settle for the role of Mitty’s mother but again managed to give it the most humane and warm flavour.

Another intriguing part of the film is the direction, which smoothly fits the ‘zoning out’ of Stiller’s character and his fantastic adventures. Playful graphics that blend with the actual scenes demonstrate the actor’s witty directorial point of view.

Overall, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty promises to charm the audience with a sweet story and an outstanding photography that will make them want to travel, either to faraway places or to imaginary worlds. So what’s more fun than a two-hour ride?


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