Walking Out – movie review

by James Robins / 17 April, 2018

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A wilderness tale of a divided father and son is a moving drama.

Gruff, sparse and almost elegant in its simplicity, Walking Out beats the well-trodden path of the back-country survival tale.

Based on a short story by David Quammen, it sees urban teenager David (Josh Wiggins) dispatched to mountainous Montana for a week with his outdoorsman father Cal (Matt Bomer). At first, the gulf between them seems as wide as the valleys they traverse – David attached to his smartphone, Cal living by lamplight in the wild.

Cal wants to cut David loose from his mother’s “apron strings” and so takes him high into the Big Sky Country (beautifully photographed) to hunt moose. Calamity strikes, and they struggle to stay alive in the harsh elements among marauding wildlife.

What gives Walking Out – which really ought to be called Limping Out – so much of its emotional heft is the sense of tradition that Cal embodies. His own father (played in flashback by Bill Pullman) passed down his knowledge of the land as if it was something sacred. And in turn, Cal must teach David, by trial and tribulation, the route from naive boyhood to enduring maturity.

This is done sensitively and without too much unforgiving masculinity. Even if their bid to survive feels familiar, the nuanced feelings revealed by the pair linger long in the memory.

Video: Zero Media

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★1/2

This article was first published in the April 21, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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