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Published January 1st, 2007 | by Coco Forsythe

The Walker Review

Classification: 15 Director: Paul Schrader Rating: 2.5/5

A walker is a well connected society gentleman who is happy to escort rich but lonely married women to parties, the opera, openings to which their very important husbands are too busy to take them. They’re not escorts, because they don’t get paid. Their currency is information – knowledge is, after all, power. Carter Page III (Harrelson) is one such walker, the social butterfly of Washington’s political elite, a world as rarified, wealthy and corrupt as pre-revolutionary Versailles. He spends his days playing canasta and his nights at society events; with his talent for gossip and his vast network of contacts, he is a sought-after and willing companion.

But when his best friend Lyn (Scott Thomas), a senator’s bored wife, discovers the corpse of her lover, dead from multiple stab wounds, Carter’s perfect, discreet existence begins to unravel. Lyn asks for Carter’s help instinctively; just as instinctively he gives it, and is shocked to find himself the number one suspect in their investigation. Trapped in a mesh of lies, intrigue and mixed motives, Carter is threatened; worse, his friends desert him, with only his boyfriend Emek (Bleibtreu) standing by him – but even he has an agenda.

The Walker is a strange film: it combines politics and sex in a murder mystery which ought to be both thrilling and thought-provoking. It has a superb cast including Willem Dafoe, Lily Tomlin, Lauren Bacall and Ned Beatty. It has an unexpectedly subtle performance from Woody Harrelson, an actor who is often annoying, and who still carries baggage from Cheers despite it being years since he last wandered into a bar where everybody knows your name. And yet there’s something oddly unsatisfying about it.

The script is overly convoluted – in the end, I had no idea who had committed the murder or why. There’s an awful lot about Carter Page II who, if he were alive, would be ashamed of his son. There’s an underlying homophobia in Washington high society; many people would, apparently, be pleased to see the back of Page one way or the other. There’s Harrelson’s awful moustache and his laid-on-with-a-trowel good old boy Virginia accent (it’s not bad exactly, but just makes him sound a bit simple, as Southern accents do).

In the end, the film disappoints – many of the excellent cast’s appearances are little better than cameos. It creates a suitably brittle atmosphere, and then fritters it away.

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