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Man on Wire 

Directed by James Marsh

Man on Wire
Directed by: James Marsh
(Mongrel Media)
On August 7, 1974, French high-wire artist Philippe Petit stepped onto the cable he and several friends had improbably, illegally secured between the tops of the recently completed Twin Towers. Now, he’s the only wire walker who ever will---and refreshingly, Man on Wire, a doc that celebrates Petit’s achievement and the passionate planning behind it, never directly mentions the 9/11-tinged poignant significance of Petit’s act. Director James Marsh trusts his audience to have basic knowledge, and his film’s stronger for it. Assorted accomplices who helped execute Petit’s daring live-art spectacle detail the preparation process that led up to it---faked press credentials and a nail-through-foot accident figure prominently---using beautiful French turns of phrase. (The word “funambule” is more poetic than the translated “wire walker.”) Weirdly, Marsh’s deconstruction of Petit’s feat makes the moment when we finally see footage and photos of the wire-walk more satisfying, rather than less so. Petit’s an egotist who could use more of a dressing-down than he’s given (a former girlfriend observes, “he never thought to ask me whether I had my own destiny to follow,” a sentiment never satisfyingly followed up). But he realized his dream---and it’s one worth documenting.
Lindsay McCarney


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