Saturday, January 24, 2009

In the Far Reaches

Sometimes a film gets lost in the shuffle. Shoved out at the end of last year, I wasn't even aware of Far North's existence until the trailer popped up at the university's art cinema recently. But I've been struggling over what to say about the film- indeed, whether I should say anything at all. This isn't because I haven't got anything to say- rather that I'm not sure whether I should say what I have ultimately decided to say. You see, I think my job as regards this film is encouraging you to seek it out, since you probably haven't seen it. But there are two very distinct ways I could get you to do that, each appealing to a totally different type of person. So here are two mini-reviews.

1. Far North is the kind of film rambling, poetic descriptors were made for: the cracking ice over the seas we swoop over; the stadium-like mountain we camp under; the crisp, pristine snow we trudge through- all are captured through beautiful photography, contrasted with the barren sonic planes and the reserved, unnervingly quiet glances of Michelle Yeoh, who leads a minuscule cast with one of the best roles she's ever been given (at least on this side of the world). Shame for Sean Bean, then, who's really let down merely by an accent- knowing where this man has sprung from is quite important, really, and when you find out he's a Russian traveller your illusions of a lost Englishman are shattered. But never mind. There's all kinds of criss-crossing thematic threads about family, solitude, lust, nation, and just plain survival that Far North remains mystifying fascinating throughout. And another Michelle- the younger, stunning Michelle Krusiec- proves a match for her elder namesake with a wary, charismatic performance as the love triangle's third point. For a film where all three characters remain intentionally unknowable, Yeoh and Krusiec, at least, make these mysteries a transfixing felicity, right down to...

[If the above explanation is enough to make you interested, I implore you to stop reading. But if all that silent beauty and reserved glances makes you yawn, read on, and highlight, for this contains what's sort of a spoiler...]

2. Blimey if Far North doesn't have one of the most surprising, baffling, utterly lunatic endings I ever did see. Out of a story of psychological sufferings and quiet connections and rejections comes a true horror film ending, one that manages to remain integral to the interior maneuverings of the characters while simultaneously being completely bonkers. If you want to exit the cinema having been shocked, repulsed and befuddled- in a good way- this might be the film for you.

And there you go. B

1 comment:

Cal said...

This was playing in Tyneside last week. I considered going to see it but didn't, mainly because of the Oscar movies being released. It's a shame since Far North is probably better, and lord knows it needs an audience more than The Reader etc... DVD methinks.