One of the biggest films this Christmas was Ben Stiller’s remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Walter Mitty is a quiet, responsible man, who works as the Negative Asset Manager for Life magazine, where he spends hours in the basement, processing photographs, in particular those of famous photojournalist Sean O’Connell. As a teenager, Walter dreamed of travelling, but after his father died he stayed at home to look after his family. Now he spends his time caught up in daydreams and his fantasies of pretty colleague, Cheryl.
When Life magazine is threatened with closure, Walter has to prepare the latest photo submission from O’Connell for the cover. But with the picture missing, Walter is forced to undertake an amazing journey to track down the photographer and save the final issue of his magazine.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film, but I was hoping it would be an inspiring adventure, rather than a cringe worthy comedy and I wasn’t disappointed.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been feeling reflective lately, and wondering a lot about the direction my life is taking, but I really related to Walter and his fantasies of being someone larger than himself. He has spent so many years immersed in the day-to-day of life, working and caring for his family, that he has never allowed himself to follow his own dreams.
But when circumstances force him to search out celebrated photojournalist Sean O’Connell in Greenland, he discovers a whole new side to himself. His adventure is life affirming and I may have shed a few happy tears.
Walter’s journey is set against some spectacular backdrops, from Greenland and Iceland to the Himalayas. Along the way he meets a host of quirky characters and comes to realise that there is more to him, and more to life, than he thought.
This film also has a great soundtrack, including Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men, and a few idiosyncratic moments that bring the story to life. One of my favourite scenes was when Walter found himself in a tiny pub in Greenland, afraid to get onto a helicopter with a drunken pilot. He imagines Cheryl appearing on stage and singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity whilst strumming a guitar, encouraging him to go out into a building storm and jump on board the helicopter, as she watches him, hair swirling in the wind.
This isn’t a perfect film; it has the dreamy air of something that Wes Anderson might produce, but with a mainstream, big budget vibe. I found this movie to be a bittersweet reminder that we can find happiness in the details and we should never forget about our dreams, no matter how far away from them our lives may take us.