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Walk With Me (2021)

“Walk With Me” is the New York version of “Am I OK?” which couldn’t have been more California. Both stories are about comfortable white women in their 30s who discover they are gay and collapse with anxiety as a result. And while coming-out stories never do get old, old coming-out stories don’t get any fresher in the telling.

While we’re complaining about tropes, it’s always a surprise to see a couple who had a child in college living an elegantly cinematic middle-class life. But Amber (Devin Dunne Cannon) and Ethan (Daniel Fox) do just that; and Amber’s choice to walk out on the marriage is inexplicable to everyone, including herself. She leaves their daughter Emily (Grant Elisa Ginsberg) in Ethan’s custody and moves into a little apartment in Brooklyn, which she slowly and tastefully furnishes from scratch without money once being mentioned. The realtor who arranges the lease is a pretty redhead named Logan (Bridget Barkan). Later they bump into each other at the package store and decide to take a bottle back to Amber’s. Logan is really a singer-songwriter, and invites Amber to a gig. Amber goes. One thing leads to another.

But does it? Writer-director Isabel del Rosal has managed to create a movie about a woman discovering her true desires with almost no real feelings in it. It’s made explicit Amber has lived her entire life in New York City, under the thumb of controlling parents before her stifling marriage, but those things make it more surprising, rather than less, that her attraction to Logan comes out of a blue sky. There’s no sense of pent-up release, or why Amber chooses Logan over all the other people in the city. Amber’s main confidant is her boss, Sol (Catrina Ganey), though it’s never made clear what they actually do or where her piles of money come from. As the final straw of these less-than-believable choices, Emily appears at the whim of the script and behaves according to the needs of the plot, instead of like a living child upset by a divorce. By contrast Logan is happy in herself – although one nasty little scene on the subway makes it clear how much work that’s taken – and happy to help Amber figure out her desires. A manic pixie dream dyke.

But despite all these changes in her life, Amber does not want to sacrifice any of her rich white woman privileges, and neither the script nor Ms. Dunne Cannon make Amber’s anxiety on this subject make sense. Her marriage to Ethan is depicted as such a bore, surely the best way to carve her own identity would be by kissing a woman in front of the other parents in her social circle? This must be what being a gay Republican is like; and Logan’s justified sense of betrayal is the only thing in the movie which feels like a real emotion. It’s not quite homophobic – it wouldn’t have been shown at BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival if it were – but the way the movie approaches Amber’s story is frozen in time. Better acting would have distracted from the weaknesses of the script; and a better script would have enabled stronger acting. It’s really irritating, as there’s hints of a smarter, sexier movie in here. Someone who had to be a married mother for 10 years before daring to acknowledge what she wants out of life is automatically interesting; and someone who’s willing to babysit a straight woman as she decides whether or not she’s gay always has lots of dramatic stories to tell. Instead “Walk With Me” combines these two characters into an unsatisfying mess. At least Ms. Barkan gets to show off her singing voice and her freckles; let’s hope her next part is more worthy of her talents.


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