Movie Review: 'The World Before Your Feet'

John Thomas

Double entendres are wonderful words to use; they always allow for flexibility in interpreting what is being said. In the case of the film, The World Before Your Feet, the word before could mean the world before Matt Green (the main character) was yet born. It could also be interpreted as meaning the landscape that lies in front of his feet as he walks.

Matt’s first significant walk was from Rockaway Beach, NY to Rockaway Beach in Oregon. One can think of easier ways to travel across America – planes, trains, busses and automobiles; but to walk the distance, pushing your worldly  possessions in a grocery cart in front of you fulfills a special desideration indeed.

Subsequent to that walk, Matt formulated a plan to traverse the approximately 8,000 miles of streets in New York – yes, every one. This six year long project took him through all of New York’s five boroughs, investigating expansive and more modest pocket-parks, along the miles of surrounding shores, in and around cemeteries and on the grand and modest streets that connect these neighborhoods. He must have had the USPS motto in mind: “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night . . .” as he walked all hours and in every weather condition – even walking during a nor-easter.

Instead of pointing out prominent sights along Fifth Avenue, such as Bergdorff’s, Saks or Tiffany’s, he shows us the special, small places and people that give New York its rich character. One visit is to a mini garden/park overflowing with flowers plants and vegetables. In the center is a small shed where the culture and food of Puerto Rico are kept alive. The neighbors have created this garden to chat and reflect on the island they left behind; they cook, sing and dance in this cozy environment. Being a personable chap, Matt talks with anyone and everyone that comes his way.

Among the questions he is frequently asked: are you rich, crazy, a vagrant, employed or all of the above? The main question he is asked, however, is why? With his friendly good humor he answers most of the questions easily; it is the last one that takes a bit of deliberation and time before responding. Basically he feels he has to, the reason not being too clear other that he feels the walk a worthy goal – something he must do.

One might wonder if it would be better to not have a goal at all than this one? A great benefit for Matt is the wealth of knowledge he collects from his research for the daily walks and the things he observes along the way. Who is to say that this isn’t of great value? Seems to me that the answer to the question of why is not as important as the answer to the question – what’s next? 

Directed by Jeremy Workman (Credits:  Magical Universe, Who is Henry Jaglom?), this “should see” film runs 95 minutes.


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