The Way Back
Well orth your time - MicealJ
There was a time when the tag-line “Directed by Peter Weir” was enough to send me straight to the front of the box-office on opening day. There still is. Even more so now that it's been over seven years since his last film “Master & Commander”. On this basis I took my seat knowing very little about this film although I had formed some vague notion of it being a Western due to the nature of the title and the publicity shot I'd glimpsed where I thought Saoirse Ronan was dressed as Laura Ingalls.
Thus when the film started up with a title explaining how in 1942 a number of state prisoners escaped a brutal Siberian gulag and made it on foot to India I was more than a little intrigued. Maybe this was why I wasn't disappointed about the fact that “All they do is walk” or maybe it's because it was just a damn good film. (A genre Peter Weir has pretty much made his own.) Yes, it's a long film that seems to really take its time in parts but that's the whole point. It's a long trip! Just when this ever decreasing group reach another milestone and find they're going to have to go on ever further you feel as exhausted as they do.
Besides there is a lot more to this than just their journey. They don't exactly have lots of jolly exciting adventures along the way but there are many highly emotional moments in the film. At one point they finally reach a country where they are hoping for sanctuary only to find it has embraced Communism and the sudden fear that these people get that maybe the whole world has – will break your heart.
Admittedly the group is a pretty clichéd bunch of stock characters. There is the cynical old American, the group clown, the rebellious loner (Colin Farrell – obviously) and the fragile waif (Ronan – obviously) all led by the idealistic hero who just wants to get home and forgive the wife who betrayed him. Nevertheless these are characters you come to identify with and so as some of them die – you feel their loss.
The film builds to a very touching final scene which is well worth the long wait – and walk.
Review published on the 10 January 2011 12:10
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