Written for RAF News Dec 2013
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is surrounded by Life: a magazine that features the awe-inspiring majesty of nature. He works in the basement however, processing the negatives of these photographs – glimpsing beauty but never truly experiencing it. The closest he gets to experience anything notable is in daydreams that transport him to a world in which he is able to steal the attention of his office crush Cheryl (Kristen Wiig). A world in which he can jump through the window of a burning building to save her three-legged dog.
Walter’s realised daydreams bring huge scale fantasies into the mundanity of his real life. But when he misplaces a negative from renowned photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) that is said to capture the quintessence of Life, Walter sets out into the wild to track him down and save his job – trading fantasy for true personal experience.
As director Stiller showcases his familiarity with different comedic styles: the fantasy sequences allowing for the scenes to take on different tones from slapstick to parody. Wiig also demonstrates her well-practiced character acting as a former cast member of hit American sketch show Saturday Night Live. Together they have a natural dynamic but this is used very scarcely as Walter flees to Europe alone. It would seem as though the romantic interest is abandoned half way through the film but it becomes clear that Walter’s journey is more about self-discovery.
Tracking Sean from Greenland to the Himalayas, sweeping shots and wide framing revel in the grand scale of these picturesque locations. Accompanied by an ever-inspirational soundtrack, and alongside the odd drop into fantasy, The Secret Life of Water Mitty can at times feel like a series of trailers but it certainly never slows down enough for you to lose interest.