"Knight Thoughts" - exclusive web content
Woody Harrelson plays gay in The Walker, Paul Schrader's sorta sequel to American Gigolo
American Gigolo Comes Out of the Closet:
12-14-07 "Knight Thoughts" web exclusive review
By Richard Knight, Jr.
27 years after Paul Schrader brought us Richard Gere as the ultimate hustler in American Gigolo he has returned to a form of the
character. But this time the hustler isn't exactly a hustler and he isn't straight. He's gay and brings emotional rather than physical
satisfaction to his clients. Who aren't exactly clients. They're elderly ladies masquerading as friends who offer Carter Page III
(Woody Harrelson) entry into some rather exalted corridors of social prestige. Carter offers them attention, delicious gossip, a
dependable fourth at bridge, discretion, and the availability to escort these lady blue bloods around Washington, D.C. Schrader's
picture, which starts slowly and offers the promise of a fascinating character study is called The Walker.
The title refers to Carter's main function - to escort these lonely wives of powerful and wealthy men to various functions and dinner
parties - all without a hint of scandal. The ladies in Carter's inner circle are played by Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily Tomlin, and Lauren
Bacall who dote on Carter the way Truman Capote's famous swans reportedly doted on him - until he turned on them and revealed
their secrets in his lightly disguised fiction.
When Carter gets involved in a murder plot revolving around one of the ladies (Scott Thomas), their loyalty to their "friend" also
immediately disappears as does the potentially involving character study of Carter. The picture meanders off into a tiresome and
rather routine murder investigation and we never get back to finding out what has made Carter into the fascinating creature we have
encountered in the film's first quarter hour. The detailed scene in which Carter is shown out for the evening with one of his ladies,
then returning home to his impossibly perfect apartment, carefully hanging up his designer clothes and hand made shoes, and
finally removing a wig to reveal baldness is worth the rest of the picture. Harrelson employs an array of character tics topped off with
a thick Southern accent (he seems to have studied Kevin Spacey's work as another gay dandy in Midnight in the Garden of Good and
Evil) along with the constructed gestures of a self-made, very carefully put together man. But the inner workings of the man and why
he makes the choices he does remain unexamined. Nor is Carter, who is certainly attractive, given a lover or a boy toy of his own
(though he obviously has the means to pay for one). Bacall and Tomlin both have their moments, as does Scott Thomas, but the
high hopes I had for the picture faded as surely as Harrelson's good name in his rather insipid group.
Schrader has focused on little observed social mores before (Light Sleeper deserved a much better reception than it received, for
example) and The Walker gets points for doing that again but it finally fades from the mind as surely as its hero does from those of
his so-called "dear friends." This is another opportunity, however, for me to recommend Before I Forget - the fascinating study of a
former escort, a French film that I found riveting earlier this year and is worth tracking down. Everything that The Walker promised,
Before I Forget delivered.