Based on a short story written by David Quammen, Walking Out presents the struggle between a father and his son to reconcile their differences. Combine Casey Affleck’s parenting nightmare in Manchester by the Sea with Leo’s brutal wilderness debacle in The Revenant and you’re pretty much there.
Weathered loner Cal (Matt Bomer) takes his fourteen-year-old son David (Josh Wiggins) through the rites of passage he went through during his adolescence. Celluloid footage of the generation once removed contrasts nicely that of the present: flickering embers of their bonfire and drifting flurries of snow look really good; however, audiences might feel slightly short-changed on the 35mm front, there just isn’t enough of the good stuff.
Just as Michelle Williams’ was criminally under-used in Manchester by the Sea, Lily Gladstone (the breakthrough star of Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women) is afforded a minuscule amount of screen time. Again, the producers could have made better use of their resources.
Alex and Andrew Smith demonstrate an ability to handle tension, steadily intensifying the film’s emotional landscape until it reaches a dramatic climax. Mountainous soundscapes amplify noises in curious ways so the film’s audience share its characters’ wariness for predators. The interplay of the visual texture of the mountainous setting with the film’s unnerving score is particularly arresting.
Sooner or later, we learn that mothers protective over their cubs are the deadliest creatures to be found, only second to man and his ability to defend his own. In a way that is fairly unkind to its audience, the violent encounter with the wild animal escalates very quickly.
Walking Out creates an atmosphere that is difficult to leave. Smith and Smith demand nuanced performances from the central pair which results in a credible story but nothing that hasn’t been done before.
CAST: Matt Bomer, Lily Gladstone, Alex Neustaedter
DIRECTOR: Alex Smith, Andrew J. Smith
WRITER: Alex Smith, Andrew J. Smith
SYNOPSIS: 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.