Perhaps it is my own perspective of the world around me, but 2012 at large has struck me as a time where people actively embrace cynicism. It’s a worldview that has seeped into cinematic culture, with everything from massive blockbusters (The Dark Knight Rises), lower budget studio pictures (Killing Them Softly) to small independent films (Compliance) suggesting a thinly veiled assault on sentiment and fun. It’s why films like Moonrise Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook and now, Girl Walk // All Day resonate so much. In a year where film adopts a level of suffocating anxiety and gloom, it’s those films that celebrate life that leave the greatest impression.
Girl Walk // All Day is a simple film of remarkable appeal, particularly for those familiar with Gregg Gillis’ (Girl Talk) mash-up album, All Day. As The Girl (Anne Marsen) flails about in a dull ballet class, her rambunctiousness overwhelms her as Gillis’ album illuminates her perspective. She bounces out of the studio and goes on a wild dance adventure throughout the streets of New York City. Gyrating down city streets as she attempts to get people to dance, we’re given a particularly illuminating perspective of the often-filmed city. As director Jacob Krupnick films throughout the city, from the Staten Island Ferry to Chinatown, the diversity and cultural milieu he encounters along the way injects Girl Walk // All Day with unexpected ethnographic heft – it’s honestly one of the most impressive films I’ve encountered about the people of New York City.
Girl Walk // All Day utilizes Gillis’ album to exploit a perpetual state of uninhibited joy and energy. Shot using extended takes and focusing primarily on the dancer’s movements, it’s the intercut reaction shots of passer-bys that make the spectacle even more impressive. And that’s a notion that really ought to be acknowledged – this is the sort of DIY project that requires so much out of its performers. Girl Walk // All Day is as much a love letter to the city of New York as it a testament to these performers’ love of their craft.
Perhaps arguments can be made that Girl Walk // All Day is little more than a music video set to Gillis’ album. But the ethos the film provokes through its runtime has a level of profundity that far exceeded my expectations. Coupled with conscious formal and narrative decisions that elevate the significance of its pulse-pounding rollicking, Girl Walk // All Day is a film that captures a spirit of glee and uninhibited self-expression that etches a smile on your face from start to finish – it’s the kind of film that just makes you want to dance through the streets, not giving a damn.