by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong, published on September 12, 2015|
Of the many irrational fears I live with on a daily basis, INTO THE FOREST touches on two of them: an extended continent-wide power failure (a major plot point) and chainsaws (a smaller, yet significant plot point). Based on the beloved novel by the same name, Writer/Director Patricia Rozema takes us deep into a British Columbian forest where sisters Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) live with their father, Robert (Callum Keith Rennie) in a beautifully-furnished, technologically advanced home miles away from civilization when the apocalyptic moment occurs. As they quickly go into survival mode, we see the family dynamics. Whereas the father has a calming effect on his daughters, Nell, an academic with a history of partying hard, is somewhat selfish and Eva, a dancer, is obsessive and more of a loner. When tragedy befalls the father, the sisters are left alone to battle the environment, dwindling supplies and not knowing who or what will come next.
INTO THE FOREST succeeds on so many levels. It is the most sensuously filmed I have seen this year. Cinematographer Daniel Grant’s work is accomplished, menacing and breath-taking. Director Patricia Rozema has a history of bringing out the best in actresses. Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood sky-rocket. They bring out the best in each other in two very demanding roles with intensity, fervour and love. I was completely mesmerized watching these very talented performers.
It’s been over 15 years when Patricia Rozema feature length movie, Mansfield Park, graced the Festival. As much as I enjoyed that one, I loved INTO THE FOREST and hope it won’t be another 15 years when she returns.