Critics' Pick

Walking Out (PG-13)

Drama 97 min. October 20, 2017
By Bilge Ebiri
"This year we hunt big game. This year you get your first kill." So says seasoned hunter Cal (Matt Bomer) to his teenage son David (Josh Wiggins), who's arrived in rural Montana for his annual visit, and even those going in unfamiliar with the premise of Alex and Andrew Smith's rapturous film may suspect that there may be some impending irony lurking beneath those words. Cal and David don't see much of each other, and it's clear from the boy's attachment to his cellphone that Cal's rugged, tough-guy ethos is mostly alien to him. The boy loves his father, and dad loves him back, but it's hard to see evidence at first that these two are in any way related.

They're headed to the beautiful, forbidding Crazy Mountains in search of moose -- one moose in particular, which Cal has been tracking for the past two weeks. Along the way, the father hopes to teach the son lessons about both hunting and life.

Let's just say things don't go as planned. To call Walking Out a thriller wouldn't quite do it justice, though it certainly is gripping. Based on a short story by David Quammen, it maintains the hard-edged simplicity of that abbreviated form even as it becomes a drama of survival, mixed with elements of a coming-of-age tale. It also calls into question those rituals of manly bonding -- suggesting that real life lessons, the lessons that actually matter, get passed on not through earnest proclamations but harrowing, soul-crushing experiences. It's a beautiful movie about unthinkable things.
Alex Smith, Andrew J. Smith Matt Bomer, Bill Pullman, Alex Neustaedter, Josh Wiggins, Lily Gladstone, Chaske Spencer David Quammen IFC Films

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