Monday, January 17, 2011
Peter Weir's lengthy (it's two-and-one-quarter hours) new film, THE WAY BACK, there's not a moment that's slow or boring. That in itself is a major accomplishment, yet Weir, shown below, goes much farther.
Keith R. Clarke, from a novel based on real events by Slavomir Rawicz) -- after giving us films of varied importance and success (Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave on his home turf, through Witness and Dead Poet's Society, to The Truman Show and Master and Commander) -- has created an old-fashioned movie done spectacularly well that is up there with -- and maybe is -- the best film of the year. (It opened at the end of 2010 in Los Angeles for award consideration.)
IMDB lists ten people as part of this crew), which may be the best I've ever seen: the dirt, cuts, bruises, swellings and face and body distortions brought on by the elements, hunger and constant walking add immeasurably to the truth of each moment.
Mark Strong in yet another fine supporting role) could not be better. Jim Sturgess, below, center, and above, second from left) earns one more feather in his cap, proving himself capable of a very good eastern-European accent throughout, as the default leader of the little group. And as usual, Sturgess offers that unique quality of his -- kindness and strength coupled to hesitation -- that draws you to him, even in a role as odd as that of Heartless, his most recent film. Ed Harris, left), as the oldest member of the group, brings his usual authority and strength, along with his sublime taciturnity.
Colin Farrell (above, right) begins as a creep, through whom a bit of humanity -- we see this as the film progresses -- still flows. Weir has long been one of our most humane filmmakers. Given the opportunity, he'll help us understand how situations and events create -- or close off -- the opportunity for a humane response. Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones) has the most difficult role -- a girl/woman in the midst of all this? Please! -- and she makes the most of it, while also making it completely believable: no small feat.
Dragos Bucur (Police, Adjective), Alexandru Potocean (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), Sebastian Urzendowsky (A Woman in Berlin) and Gustaf Skarsgård (yes, Stellan's son, most recently seen here in Patrik, Age 1.5). All give equally fine performances -- a testament to their skill, along with the abilities of Weir and his casting director, Lina Todd.
here to find a city and theater near you.