Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Way Back (2010)

Cinematically Beautiful - 4/5
So I saw this film yesterday called The Way Back. You may have seen it cropping up in the DVD shelves of the shops near you, as it has just been released, and so I thought it worthy of a review. The film is a critically acclaimed (Academy Award Nomination - Best Makeup) true life story of a group of prisoners who escape from a Siberian gulag and embark on the 4000 mile trek into British controlled India. As you can imagine the plot brings with it visceral and beautifully harsh landscapes including the Siberian wastelands, the Gobi desert and the Himalayas. The stunning beauty of the environment clearly played a key role in the way this film was created. It focused primarily on cinematic beauty and emotionally evoking scenes and succeeded.

Though the acting takes second place to the cinematography, it certainly didn't fall down. Celebrity A-Lister Colin Farrell made an all too brief appearance as Valka, an unstable and violent prisoner who escapes along with the rest of the group. Ed Harris provided a stellar performance, as he more often that not does, as the American soldier Mr Smith but he could not compete with Jim Sturgess (21, Fifty Dead Men Walking) who was sublime as protagonist Janusz. You could feel the determination and desperation of the real life character through him and he was a brilliant pick for the lead role.

The only complaint I can think of is that some major scenes were skipped over with little detail provided. For
example, you'd think the breaking out of prison scene would have been high up on the priorities of important scenes. Unfortunately this scene was totally skipped and all we saw was the aftermath. A similar example occurred towards the end of the film. The trek across the Himalayas was shown in very little detail and the entrance into India was simply thrown upon us. Perhaps the thinking behind this was to cut down the length of the film for, if it had been longer than the two hours that it was, it could definitely have lost its emotional connection with the audience.

Despite these complaints The Way Back is one of the best DVD releases I've seen this year and I would definitely recommend it.

Have you seen The Way Back? What did you think of it?



Dan O. said...

A brain-twister to be sure. But the fact that the plot demands attention only adds to the exhilaration. This is a story about dreams that requires the audience to stay awake. Good Review!

Jack Ibbetson said...

Thanks glad you enjoyed it.Definitely one to concentrate on but as you say that helps to draw the audience in. Really enjoyed the film

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