Walden (2023) film written and directed by Mick Davis



Walden is a good name for a film. A good name for an American character. Walden (Emile Hirsch) is a court stenographer in a small southern town. The film was shot in Atlanta. Everyone knows each other. Everyone knows Walden. But he’s really not worth knowing. Penny dreadful. I was going to explain the plot. But if you’ve watched as many Scooby Doo cartoons as I did when I was wee, you’ll work it out.

Somehow a crack cocaine addicted father who cooked his three-year old daughter in an oven is let out on a technicality. Oh, no. Big government is evil and stupid. In reality, only rich Americans get let off on technicalities. See Harvey Weinstein and Donald J Trump. See Prince Andrew and his many American friends living and dead.

Guns are good and necessary, not just for law enforcement but for everyday life. The Judge pulls a pistol out of his robes. He points it at the crack-addicted child killer's head when he vaults the bar and threatens him. He tells Walden to start carrying a gun. Everyone in America owns a gun, especially black men that rob stores. Walden doesn’t have a gun but wallops him with a bottle of whiskey. He’s a reluctant hero.

Later, two would-be rapists attack Walden. Everyone in America owns a gun but would-be rapists. They pull out flick knives. Walden shoots them both. Good work, Walden.

Walden is injured, of course. His estranged father, the alcoholic that only drinks neat whiskey in the corner stool of the pub in town, sits by his bedside. He’s sober, but we’ve never seen or heard him drunk. He looks and sounds the same. Walden has a bandage on his head. A halo which he continues to wear when he gets up and walks like the newly risen. He continues to wear the bandage/halo. Lest you forget.  Not quite un-Dirty Harry. Town saviour.

Show don’t tell. Walden has a rare brain cancer. The neurologist asks if Walden has heard of it. Walden tells him and the audience about women who ended up in court having stripped herself naked and went crazy. More tell than show. We don’t want to see Walden naked.

The love interest is a Southern belle. She too is a stenographer. She asks him if he’s a savant? He’s one-dimensional. Nothing to hook onto. But they have an affair because it’s scripted. She takes him to her parent’s house. Kids play in the pool. Spot the honorary black kid, splashing about.

I said I’m not going to mention plot, but let’s just imagine six kids in this small town had went missing. The sticking points are they’re immigrant kids. Nobody to care for them but the town freak who suffers from Gigantism or Acromegaly, but has his own house and some kind of psychic ability and an ability to buy chocolate bars. We know who’ll be fingered as the red-herring because of our psychic abilities.  None of this matter much until a seventh kid goes missing. He’s a white kid from town. His mother wails at the town sheriff, who suffers from the same kind of existential crisis as Walden, questioning God’s will and the local priests. God will help them get their man for sure. Walden will help too (see halo).

I’ve probably said too much about Walden. More than it deserves. Save a penny. Don’t watch the dreadful.