Man On Wire does not have to do much to better previous “On Wire” films, beating the Mel Gibson / Goldie Hawn starrer Bird On A Wire considerably. And being a documentary we do not constantly cut to a pair of feet which obviously don’t belong to Goldie Hawn as the tightrope walking is done. But as a documentary film, it suffers somewhat from lack of key footage of its main event and subject. So whilst there is footage in the film of Philippe Petit tightrope walking, there is none of the key event, namely walking between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. And that is no longer there either.

So why a documentary? Well the protagonists are nuts in a particualrly French way, and are extemely entertaining: finding actors this guilelessly charsmatic would be hard. And a biopic version would have to answer questions like “why do it”, which a Gallic shrug answers perfectly well in the film. Elsewhere the film has been described as a heist movie, and it doe sshare some similarities (intricate plot which goes wrong etc). But if it had been film if how it happened, it would be one of the worst heist movies in history – bearing in mind that David Mamet’s Heist already has that sewn up. Because what the film understands is that someone telling you how scary and hard it was to hide under a tarpaulin for two hours is much more interesting than watching someone hide under a tarp for two hours. This is a storytellers film, and only the occasional still photo really takes it beyond the spoken word. But what a story, told well. And, as you see above, occasionally what a photo.