"The Way Back" Movie Review

1/28/2011 Posted by Admin

"The Way Back"

Movie Review

Directed by Peter Weir, Written by Peter Weir and Keith Clarke, 133 minutes, Rated PG-13.

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

Peter Weir’s “The Way Back” recounts the true exodus of several political prisoners who escape internment and head into the harsh European wilderness. Weir and his cast make every step count, displaying the cruel force of nature, from the intense cold of Serbia to the blistering sun of the desert. Rife with uncertainty and realism, Weir’s film is a stunning testament to human fortitude and to the power of Mother Nature.

Jailed for criticizing the communist party during World War II, a Polish POW named Janusz (Jim Sturgess) finds himself in a Serbian prison camp. With supplies scarce and death eminent, he, along with several other prisoners, escape into the icy tundra of the wilderness, which proves just as dominating jail.

Fighting off hunger, hypothermia, and mirage, these fugitives navigate the freezing cold of Serbia to a remote lake. There, they meet a 16-year-old refugee named Irena (Saoirse Ronan), who delivers the group some much needed humanity, but the trip is far from over.

Following their detour at the lake, the group crosses thousands of miles of desert, which claims more victims than the cold. Nature is the real prison for these travelers, and it is their executioner as well.

The three leads--Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, and Jim Sturgess--give remarkably versatile performances. Farrell's shifty Russian criminal plays well off Harris' timid, wise American. Weir depicts the group with variety, adding depth to their journey and sorrow to their failures. These are seven distinct beings, and Weir allots time for us to acquaint ourselves with them.

Peter Weir assures his characters apt development, but his real focus is nature. The wide shots of Serbia and the flared photography of the desert offer a realistic perspective. Each setting holds its own dangers and rewards, forcing the characters to adapt to each one of them. Weir turns nature into a character, providing each location with a personality and a short temper.

"The Way Back" shows a world of extremes and these pilgrims suffered all of them. From the rich characters to the harrowing locales, Peter Weir's film gives the viewer a taste of the danger and hardship these travelers endured. Walking 4,000 km is no easy task, which Weir reminds audiences in every frame. The performances, settings and pace work to have you feel every one of those hardships and it does so effectively.

Grade: B+

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  1. Anonymous said...

    Siberian , not Serbian you Genius!