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Monday, October 24, 2016

Into the Forest

One has to admire Ellen Page, who after Juno could have gone in a completely different direction as an actress. She did a few X-Men films, but seems to be living on that money while she produces small, independent films. I reviewed the Netflix film Tallulah a while back, and here is one, Into the Forest, that must have been a labor of love, because it was only released for a week, in Canada, and made less than ten grand. It deserves a better life on home video.

There have been more than a few films and books about what happens when the power goes out. When it doesn't come right back on, and people don't know what's happening, and shortages start, what will people resort to? Into the Forest is a film like that, but told from a much more intimate perspective--two sisters, living deep in the woods.

They are played by Page, the younger sister who is something of an intellectual genius, and Evan Rachel Wood, who is a dancer. They live with their father (Callum Keith Rennie) when the power inexplicably goes out. It's still out the next morning, then a week, then a month. They visit town on what little gas they have, but find the store sold out and no news, as the Internet and broadcast channels are down. Is it nuclear war? An alien invasion? It doesn't matter--what matters is that three people, then two, must cope.

Strip away the post-apocalyptic stuff and Into the Forest is about a relationship between two sisters. While Page is the smart one, and Wood the quieter, more artistic one, their roles shift as the power outage lasts more than a year. They face dangers--both human and not--but manage to cement their bond.

What the film, based on a book by Jean Hegland and written and directed by Patricia Rozema, can't do is let us in on what must have been the incredible tedium that going that long without electricity must entail. We see Wood dancing to a metronome, and Page devouring every book she can get her hands on (including a handy one about edible plants), but as appealing as a few days like that might be, I think I'd be stark-raving bonkers after going that long without at least a little TV, no matter who I was staying with.

That being said, Into the Forest is worth searching out. The lead performances are fine and the film will provide a lot of good discussion afterward.

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