Review: DOUBLE WALKER, An Examined Life, An Uncertain Retribution
The saying goes that there are no atheists in a foxhole. I would probably disagree, but I can see the point, as I could understand anyone perhaps trying to bargain their way out of death, or, at least if they weren't prepared for their death, striking a deal that in hindsight, was a bad idea. The idea of everlasting life, with serious consequences, has been explored with interest, as it's quite a philosophical conundrum: would you take just one more day as a human, with the ability to close all your affairs, or would you prefer to live forever, but as a ghost?
Filmmaker Colin West and co-writer Sylvie Mix take this conuncrum under investigation in Double Walker, a stripped-down ghost story about one woman's journey to understand how to exist when, really, she doesn't exist, and what it means to be human when you barely had a chance to be one. It's a quiet and strange film, with moments of deep power and reckoning for anyone who wants to dig deeper into this idea of how we decide what makes us human, and what our humanity is worth.
She (Mix) is a Ghost - just that, a young woman we quickly figure out is a spectral figure; she explains that she was given a choice: to live one last day as a human, or live forever as a ghost. She chose the latter, and the only people she can interact with are believers and sinners. For the latter, she is able to make them pay for their sins. But one day, she meets a believer, and realizes all she missed out on by choosing this etherial existence.
It's understandable, when faced with your unexpected demise and not feeling like you've had the time you should, you might, like Ghost, choose a ghostly existence - after all, some life is better than no life, perhaps? And there are enough believers in the world. But if you can't feel anything, in your body or heart, which don't exist, where is the meaning? Where is the joy, or even sadness? The small joys of a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day, or the large ones of falling in love. It's not just that you can pass through things, but things - everything - passes through you, unable to leave a mark, perhaps besides one of violence.
As Ghost starts to make these sinners pay for their crimes, a pattern is revealed, and her visits to a lonely woman who has just lost her young daughter become both a beacon and a painful reminder. She isn't just some random figure, or at least, she has a quest to fulfill before she fully invests in this state of not-quite-being. Just what did Ghost leave behind in her life? While she doesn't reveal her less-than-corporeal state to her new friend, she asks him what he would do, with the choice. He instantly knows that he would choose just the one day, that even the offer of eternal life means nothing without the joys of human life.
With the tone and story of a novella, one that eschews concetre answers or even complete vengeance, in favour of healing one or two important hearts, Double Walker wants us to examine the life of someone who didn't quite have one. What it means to have an existence of either troubling uncertaintly, to be a person who brings pain or peace, and how the smallest joys are the sweetest.
Double Walker opens in theatres and on demand in the USA on November 12th.