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Loving Walter (1986)

Ian McKellen , Barbara Jefford , Stephen Frears  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian McKellen, Barbara Jefford, Arthur Whybrow, Tony Melody, David Ryall
  • Directors: Stephen Frears
  • Writers: David Cook
  • Producers: Nigel Evans, Patrick Cassavetti, Richard Creasey
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Bfs Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 2, 2003
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006CXZN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,117 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Loving Walter" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Sir Ian McKellen gives a knockout performance as a mentally challenged man dealing with the harsh realities of the world. From birth, Walter has always been a fighter. Through his own grueling efforts, he learns to read and write and even manages to hold down a humble job. When his parents die, however, Walter suddenly finds himself alone and unable to cope with the crowds, the noise and the world outside his little home. The only solution is a lengthy stay at a forbidding psychiatric hospital, an experience that proves even scarier to the young man.

Eventually, Walter’s determined spirit wins out over his fears and he creates a new life for himself at the institution, even gaining a love interest, June (Sarah Miles). Years later, Walter and June dare to take on the outside world again, leaving the safe confines of the hospital and setting out for London. Facing monumental challenges and with only each other to cling to, they are determined to make a life for themselves. Directed by Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons) and based on David Cook’s award-winning novel, Loving Walter is a profoundly moving film with a character impossible to forget.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mesmerizing Film June 11, 2004
LOVING WALTER is one of those films that sticks in your gut long after the credits are finished. Originally made in 1981 as a film for British television (actually there are two films here, loosely tied) and written by David Cook, LOVING WALTER relates the story of a mentally challenged child born to parents who consider him "one of God's mistakes" and keep him isolated as a child tending pigeons with his silent but caring father and his enduringly patient but highly resentful mother. His father dies and Walter is left with his pity-party mother until she, too, dies, though her corpse is kept by the needy Walter in a room with his pigeons. His parents' death having 'released him into the world', Walter soon finds a new home in a mental institution managed by, among others, Jim Broadbent (in a terrifically bizarre performance) and finds his purpose in tending other less able patients. He stays there from age 21 to age 40 and this is where the film changes. Apparently the original film was released at this point. This DVD form of the film continues with the admission of women to the mental institution, among them a fragile but forceful Sarah Miles who convinces Walter to leave with her and live in the filthy sector of London. Love ensues, wanes, and Walter survives, perhaps not in a winning way but he does find some solace at film's close. This second half of the film is poorly edited with what seem like breaks for commercials. But this is the only negative aspect to the flow of the total film. Sir Ian McKellan imbues Walter with total credibility, creating an unforgettable character about whom we care deeply. His entire body is 'challenged' and his few lines of dialogue are all the more poignant because of this subtle, subdued performance. Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful acting from McKellen in a very nonsyrupy movie. December 26, 2003
If any of you have seen THE OTHER SISTER featuring Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi playing mentally challenged characters, you might cringe at the thought of seeing any more movies with "normal" actors portraying such roles. However, I must say that LOVING WALTER is quite different and well worth watching. A British production (filmed for the UK's Channel Four), it's a very unflinching look at Walter, a mentally challenged man who has to deal with the hard lot in life that he's been dealt. He loses his parents and has to survive being in a mental institution with all manner of disabled people (both mental and handicapped), but makes himself useful to the staff and patients by being an assistant minder of sorts.
McKellen is amazing in his subtlety (not so much dialogue, but a lot of communication through his expressions, actions, and mannerisms), and there are very few moments of comic relief provided at the character's expense. (I was often nervously anticipating some scene where Walter makes a complete fool of himself in front of people a la THE OTHER SISTER but thankfully there weren't any such moments.) His physical transformation--with false teeth, awful haircut and shuffling gait--only adds to the utter believability of the Walter character. It's also interesting to hear him use a more Northern accent (when he does speak).
The direction and story (by Stephen Frears and David Cook, respectively) don't sugarcoat anything, and the bleak situations Walter goes through make him almost Job-like...without the happy ending. The first half of the DVD (which was originally broadcast as its own movie) is grim and heartwrenching, but the second half almost veers into campy, madcap hilarity with an escape plan from the mental institution.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must-have for Frears-fans October 6, 2009
By Leo
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Loving Walter is an impressive work of cinema, half documentary (or is it?), half fiction. It also is an early work of a great director, Stephen Frears. Which means: a professional work of art, and an interesting addition to Frears' filmography. For these two reasons the movie deserves to be more available than it is now. This edition is the only one (as far as I know). Two objections only (apart from inevitable 'foggy' images by being translated from vhs): why are there no subtitles? And why is it only made up for American/Canadian region?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Walter February 23, 2009
By Blue
This is a great piece of work from sir Ian's early years and shold be seen by all.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars October 20, 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Not the movie I was looking for but still pretty good
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