The Walker


Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten

The Walker
"There is a fairytale vibe to proceedings, enhanced by the snow through which he trudges in the parks."

Inspired by the story of civil engineer Matt Green - who set out to walk every street in every borough of New York City (and is still going strong more than three years later - you can track his progress on his website - The Walker tracks the steps of Mateo (Pedro Aijón), a Spanish civil engineer who wants to map a different kind of topographic record of the city. Armed with a notebook and a smartphone, Mateo plans a daily route and then films and photographs the sights and people he encounters.

Mateo's motivation for setting out on this mammoth task remains unclear, but flashbacks show a relationship break-up with a woman (Isa Feliu) who cannot articulate why she wants their life together to come to an end. Is this endless perambulation of New York a distraction from emotional turmoil? His inspiration may come from one of the items the couple discuss as they divide their possessions - the graphic novel The Walking Man by Jiro Taniguchi.

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In Taniguchi's book a nameless man explores urban Japan on foot, although always returning home to his partner at the end of each chapter. These are not 'adventures' so much as someone taking the time to notice different things about their environment, following paths to see where they are taken, and interacting with people along the way. Writer/director Adán Aliaga likewise has his protagonist sufficiently attuned to his environment to notice the small gesture of a homeless man adjusting his tie, and he counteracts the anonymity with which a city of New York's size often cloaks its citizens by interestedly enquiring about people - chatting to street vendors about where they're from - and their lives.

Given New York's reputation for brusqueness, Mateo gets an easy ride from those he encounters - an interaction with two suspicious policemen aside - and there is a fairytale vibe to proceedings, enhanced by the snow through which he trudges in the parks. The passing of time is conveyed via an onscreen clock that counts Mateo's steps and mileage so far, but the ellipses hide some unanswered questions - such as where he sleeps at night and how he can afford to do this. Just as we don't see the start of Mateo's journey, neither do we see the end - he continues walking into the distance as the film closes - and the viewer is not unlike one of the characters he meets on his way, sharing a glimpse into the life of another but then passing on.

A gentle film about paying attention to our surroundings and appreciating those around us.

Reviewed on: 21 Dec 2015
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The Walker packshot
Mateo is a civil engineer who plans to walk every street in New York to create a different kind of map of the city.

Director: Adán Aliaga

Writer: Adán Aliaga

Starring: Pedro Aijón, Isa Feliu, Bouza, Yi Liu, Peter González, Tony del Bono

Year: 2015

Runtime: 18 minutes

Country: Spain


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