It is not often you see a heist flick that leaves you in tears, but that was me, tearing up at the end of Man on Wire last night.
In the early 1970s, a Parisien street performer named Philippe Petit became obsessed with the idea of walking on a wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center, which was just going up. He got together a band of co-conspirators, including his girlfriend, his best friend, an Australian, and a few men on the inside. They spent years casing the joint and practicing, and then — in one of the most magical capers you can imagine — they pulled it off.
It’s remarkable to see the effect Petit’s stunt had — and still has — on the people involved. The pictures of him lying on his back on the wire, 450 meters up, with his balance pole athwart him like a cross, are almost too beautifully symbolic to be credible.
But the filmmakers are smarter than the audience, and the ultimate fate of the towers, and what Petit and his band of merry pranksters think about it, is left to the viewer to divine.