The Walker

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


           

            They hand us the whole caboodle in the early scenes of “The Walker.” A group of prominent, middle-aged Washington women have spent a bucket of money on their hair and clothes for a night out over canasta and gossip. They are Natalie van Miter (Lauren Bacall), Lyn Lockner (Kristin Scott Thomas), and Abigail Delorean (Lily Tomlin). Sitting in with them is Carter Page III, a southern boy living in the shadow of his father’s reputation (for a notable role in the Watergate investigation). He dabbles in real estate and has great amounts of flex time to escort these ladies to the social functions or assignations of their choice. He is their walker.

            These women love the A-level social life of the nation’s capital and the gossip that is its currency. They want to attend galas and benefits on the arm of a good looking man who knows how to dress and make cosmopolitan small talk without ever making an embarrassing gaffe. Carter is their guy.

            Though these women are gaining on the great beyond, they are fit – gym machine fit, personal trainer fit – the kind of fitness that is carved from a no exceptions personal discipline. Fitness is the first weapon in the competition to be seen. They cover their angular frames in several thousand dollars worth of accessories and an elegant, simple, dress that flows perfectly toward expensive spiked heels. They are camera ready.

            A night of canasta with this group would not a movie make, so Mr. Schrader throws in a murder – of the lover of Lynn Lockner. Carter chauffeurs Ms. Lockner to the apartment of lobbyist Robbie Kononsberg where Lockner discovers the blood soaked body of her paramour. She then asks poor old Carter to step in to protect all the reputations involved. He does just that and digs himself deeper and deeper into a cesspool of betrayal. Because the players in the murder plot are thoroughly boring, the fun of watching the smarmy Washington social game evaporates.

            Woody Harrelson is surprisingly good as Carter. Watch especially for the scene when he reveals his own preparations for an evening out as a walker. Lily Tomlin, Kristin Scott Thomas and Lauren Bacall do a fine job of building stone cold women. There is good fun to be had in watching them create the shallow social pool in which they swim with the politicians they have married, but when the murder is thrown in, the whole things becomes silly.

            The fact that we lose track of the peripheral characters even in a murder yarn is a measure of the weakness of the sub plot that was designed to be the central point of the movie. The point of this movie is the women and their friend the walker; the murder is irrelevant. As a comment on a social sub-culture, “The Walker” is at times funny and revealing of urban social competition. As a story, it sinks like a stone.

 


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