The idea of past futures is an interesting construct of paradox. Sometimes the idea of what is and what is before intrudes on itself. Many films tend to make that approach the crux of its concept. “The Long Walk” hails from Laos takes a different approach. Without feeling too local, it creates an interesting antagonist in The Old Man who seems to drift back and forth into certain mindsets and constructs of his life. There is an adherence or at least comment of the afterlife or new lives which might be a Buddhist aspect interlaced into the film. The film does not overplay these points or make the narrative too dense to its strength. The reasoning of how and why The Old Man does what he does is sound but still mysterious. He can see those who have died but only in how he has helped release them from pain. While it might sound morose, it actually is more an existential journey with a character that simply understands what he needs to do. Like all humans he makes mistakes in thinking what he would want as an older man versus the perception of what he would be as a a boy. And whenever he is pondering he takes a hit from his vape which is an interesting modern throwback of the old pipe. The essence of the mother figure works in two ways here but the film also shows exceptional compassion and forward thinking in others. The Old Man might be cold and calculating in certain moments but is utterly empathetic in others. The tea is his weapon but more assisting with the idea of moving on. The question becomes where the line between savior and perhaps darkness lies. He sees this line at one point and realizes that the person he put his faith in ultimately he did not help in the way he had hoped. The beauty of the film comes between the lines of perception and perspective. At one point, his guide through this world makes him as a boy step over the line she paints in the road to show why he can only travel with her there. It is simply reuses one special effect from the opening scene but it is effective and not complex thereby making its point abundantly clear. A a result “The Long Walk” achieves an rare thing: a complex drama in a a local but rural setting in the slight guise of a genre film.
By Tim Wassberg