THE FOOTSTEP MAN
The Footstep Man is not a bad film its critical reception led one to believe a far more mediocre film than is the case. The images given of the process of filmmaking are striking, particularly Leon Narbeys juxtaposition of images going on in the secondary film with the more banal things used to represent their sounds raw meat thrown on a bench to represent a slap in the face, high-heels on a Parisian sidewalk amusingly represented by Steven Grives walking in high-heels along fake paving strewn with sand. Paris of the Belle Epoque is dressed with considerable unromanticised conviction according to Michael Hurst, Leon Narbey went to incredible detail, even down to analysing and replicating the style of Toulouse-Lautrecs brushstrokes.
Jennifer Ward-Lealand is exceptional as Mireille, presenting a hollowly haunting beauty that gives an extraordinary conviction to the film. Ward-Lealands real-life husband Michael Hurst, before finding fame as the sidekick on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1994-9), is fine in both his roles, most so as the barman a momentary slip back into character to parody Toulouse-Lautrecs limp shows just what a chameleon performance he has undergone.
For all that, The Footstep Man feels vaguely unsatisfying. The resolution the film offers, particularly for the film-within-the-film, seems banal and one cannot help but feel that its original ending worked with greater conviction. Leon Narbey tries to end on a positive upbeat message but this feels conducted with a little too much in the way of narcissistic self-absorption.
Leon Narbey has not directed another film subsequently. Nowadays, he works as a cinematographer, having shot a number of high-profile New Zealand films including Whale Rider (2002), Perfect Creature (2006), Dean Spanley (2008) and Rain of the Children (2008).
Clip from the film here:-