Film Review: THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET (USA 2018) ***

The World Before Your Feet Poster

For over six years, and for reasons he can’t explain, Matt Green, 37, has been walking every block of every street in New York City – a journey of more than 8,000 miles. THE WORLD BEFORE … See full summary »


Jeremy Workman


Matt Green

A very simple film likely with no budget about a man who walks around all the time.  Apparently there is more that goes under ones feet i.e. more than what meets the eye.

There are 8,000 miles of sidewalks, paths and roads in the 5 boroughs in New York City, and for the past six years Matt Green has been walking them all–every street, every block, every pedestrian overpass, park lane and hiking trail.  A journey that stretches from the heart of Harlem to the marshes of Staten Island, Matt’s walk is a pursuit of anything that catches his eye, be it a national landmark or a humble manhole cover.  Director Jeremy Workman in the doc executively produced by actor Jesse Eisenberg, accompanies Matt as he walks towards completing his goal through neighbourhoods rarely seen onscreen, chronicling the unusual daily routine of an exceptionally curious young man.

This is a very intriguing documentary that could be used as a textbook example of documentary filmmaking.  Find an interesting subject, not necessarily famous or one that would change the world – just one that might let audiences look at life differently.  Explain the background.  Describe his task and the reason behind his choice of this task.  Interview people that the subject knows or has encountered.  Keep the film lively with music, keen observations  or cinematography while putting a few lines of wisdom on the voiceover.

Matt’s background is civil engineering.  Matt is fed up working a desk job in a cubicle and decides to walk the world or rather NYC.  He had already walked across the U.S. from east to west at this time.  Matt sustains his endeavour through couch-surfing, cat-sitting and a $15 per day budget. He’s not sure exactly why he’s doing it, only knowing that there’s no other way he’d rather spend his days.

The reason?  Matt confesses he likes being in a place while being able to move on at the same time.  Walking allows him to enjoy pleasures that one will miss if travelling in a car – like being in a field of flowers.  Director Workman interviews strangers Matt meets on the way.  These strangers, including kids pose questions like: “Why walk?”, “What is the purpose?”  “How far have you walked?”  “How far do you have to go?”  “How long have you being doing this walk?’

Among the more interesting parts of the walk include the part on lower Manhattan where Mark encounters a graveyard in the midst of skyscrapers or curved narrower streets.  Also intriguing are the numerous 9/11 memorials he encounters during the walk near the ex-Twin Towers neighbourhood.

Director Workman has surprises up his sleeve, around every corner walked byMatt.  He reveals Matt to be an intriguing person.  Matt is smart- after all he is a qualified engineer.  Over time Matt has amasses an encyclopedia of surprising New York trivia and underground history, informed by his own research and conversations with the amused but supportive New Yorkers he encounters along the way.   He has a blog with visitors daily (though not that many) on his site.  Besides the sites, monuments and simple streets visible on screen that Matt has visited, it is also the people he crosses that makes the journey.  

The one lesson that can be taken from this doc are the surprises life offers daily in the ordinary.  One can find life’s beauty in ones own city as well as travelling thousands of miles away.  A simple tale simply but wonderfully told.