reader report

Review: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

20:32, Jan 02 2014
Stuart Dryburgh
ON SET: Ben Stiller directs and stars in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller, stars and directs in this powerful and uplifting film based on the short story from James Thurber.

Stiller plays Walter Mitty, a white-collared daydreamer who works as a negative asset manager at Life Magazine. He is responsible for collating and processing photos from freelance photographer Sean O'Connell.

According to the movie promos, Walter "escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action". But when Walter misplaces the 'photo of the century' and his job is threatened, he embarks on a real-world adventure "more extraordinary than anything he could ever have imagined".

The Secret life of Walter Mitty is interlaced with a humour that Stiller is cast perfectly for, but you wouldn't define it as a comedy; this is an adventure tale which is well-balanced between a Hollywood blockbuster and art house cinema.

Accompanied by a great soundtrack including Hall & Oates, David Bowie and Arcade Fire. This movie will inspire and warm your heart right from the beginning.

The supporting cast are a little hit-and-miss; Sean Penn oozes charisma as O'Connell and while he only has a few lines of dialogue they are all profound, deep and reflective.


Kristen Wiig's Cheryl Melhoff is adequate as Walter's love interest but lacks chemistry. Adam Scott portrays the perfect amount of jerkiness as executive Ted Hendricks.

The visual landscape is the movie's best feature. Like many other blockbusters this year including "Oblivion" and "Thor: The Dark World", much of the film was shot in Iceland and cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh's use of wide angle allows for some poetic views of the stunning panoramas - you can't help but wonder why Twentieth Century fox didn't push for a release in the larger IMAX format.

The ending is predictable and even unnecessary, but The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is not about the destination, this is a story all about the journey.

Whether he's jumping from helicopters, fighting sharks, climbing the Himalayas or skateboarding down erupting volcanoes, Walter inspires us to stop dreaming and start living.