Directed by Alex Smith and Andrew J. Smith
Starring Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman, Alex Neustaedter and Lily Gladstone
A city teen who travels to Montana to go hunting with his estranged father only for the strained trip to become a battle for survival when they encounter a grizzly bear
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★★★½ review by feedingbrett on Letterboxd
Films set against the isolated cold of the American outback, The Revenant and Wind River being recent prime examples, tend to amplify the particular conditions of humanity and often placed upon in a position of danger that is either set by the unpredictable harshness of nature or by the deep-seeded extremities of human immorality. Fight or flight is activated and often we bare witness to the nature of survival, an attempt to triumph through the seeming certainty of mortality.
Walking Out, a film by Alex and Andrew J. Smith, is a feature that covers similar tracks to the aforementioned examples. It explores the tense and distant relationship between a father and son, played by Matt Bomer and Josh Wiggins respectively, set against the cruel and punishing conditions of the North American wilderness (Montana to be specific). Divided by two distinct halves, with the former introducing and exploring the relationship between the two characters - and interconnecting certain flashback scenes involving Bomer’s Cal with his own father, Clyde (Bill Pullman) - while the latter finds Cal and his son, David, in a position of danger as mortality is ready to devour them at any minute.
While the first half’s intentions are crucial to the power that would be laid out in it’s latter portion, it does feel a little sluggish, especially since the film intentionally desires to withhold any sense of ground shaking drama to amplify the events that would later take place. Yet, I cannot help but appreciate the film for not taking the traditional route and make such characters so impulsive and reactionary. Both Cal and David show authentic human restraint and intellect in the way they interact and react to one another, hesitant to say something that has been lingering inside, knowing that stating such could not easily be taken back and could severely damage their relationship.
We see the fruitful rewards of such character assembly in the film’s second half, where despite such trialling and almost hopeless odds, we see the two grow in their relationships in ways that felt inapparent upon earlier exchanges. We witness David develop into maturity and acknowledge the true value of his father’s wisdom, while Cal realises the pride and joy he has for his son, whose existence and minimal time spent with him means the world to him than anything else. Walking Out doesn’t expand it’s tone and perspective despite the new circumstance that they find themselves in, but rather it remains consistent and strict with the quiet intimacy that was earlier established. The directors allowed the wilderness to step into this intimate bubble, both facilitating growth and challenging them, proving itself beyond than just mere aesthetics.
For 95 minute film, this doesn’t breeze through the entire narrative as one thinks it would. Instead, it allows each minute and second from that running time to breathe and lay things down brick by brick. The approach does manage to reward it’s viewers if given the appropriate time and attention, but that being said, I personally feel it’s initial half could have packed itself denser thematically. But maybe that’s just asking too much.
★★★½ review by Andrew C on Letterboxd
"You don't have to be faster than Sir Bear. Just faster than your old man."
Another film with the beautiful backdrop of the northern Rocky Mountains, Walking Out uses a survival tale and not-so-subtle allegory as a father and son make it through the wilderness of Montana.
Exit, pursued by a bear. It's not just a classic Shakespearean stage direction, it's the grizzly ex machina in what is otherwise a slow film that feels significantly longer than 95 minutes.
I think that's because the whole film is just heavy. I wasn't asking for comic relief or a silly side story, but it's just so rare to see a movie thread together a coming-of-age tale with suspenseful thrills and not have a bit of humour. It's tough, but gorgeous and majestic, like the Rockies themselves. If there was a film for "art bros," well this might be it.
It's that balance of masculinity and reality that come to a head in the second half of the film. Jack London would be proud.
Pretty colorful flashbacks contrast with snowy muted shots of the father and son. Matt Bomer is nicely cast as the rugged mountain dude. And the son Josh Wiggins does well to show the emotions of the teenager out of his element but learning on the fly.
But the star is the cinematography and editing, maybe as good as the equally snowy Wind River. If you have seen that and enjoyed it, try this smaller-scale survivalist story that's just good enough to work.
★★★½ review by Cogerson on Letterboxd
Why I watched this one? Saw Bill Pullman on the DVD cover.
What is this one about? An urban teenager journeys to Montana to hunt big game with his estranged father. Father and son struggle to connect, until a brutal encounter in the heart of the wilderness changes everything.
My thoughts on this one? Movie is broken up into two stories. The flashback scenes with Bill Pullman are very very plain. The scenes in present time are much better. The shooting locations are very impressive. I enjoyed watching the son and father reconnecting. On the negative side...there is not much story here....and there is very little Bill Pullman in the movie. Final thought: Enough good stuff here to slightly recommend.
★★★★ review by Dylan Browne on Letterboxd
A simple beautiful story, presented with a visual delight with really good performances
★★★½ review by Jovica on Letterboxd
Double set of father/son relationships in the snowy cold mountain wilderness. It starts little bit slow and dull, but really makes up in the second part of the movie. Very nice nature shots, acting and original soundtrack.
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