Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood survive the apocalypse in refreshing film'|
by Joseph Friar, published on July 30, 2016 - 10:34 AM
Set in the not too distant future and based on Jean Hegland’s critically acclaimed novel, “Into the Forest” is not your average apocalyptic film. The story is told from the viewpoint of two sisters played by Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood who are having trouble coming to grips with the death of their father and the ability to survive on their own in a world without running water, electricity, and gasoline. Directed by Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park, Kit Kittredge) with first rate performances by Page and Wood, the realistic film is less thriller and more drama yet gripping at times.
Deep in the lush forest of Northern California in a modern glass house filled with the latest technology we find aspiring ballerina Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) practicing her dance moves while younger sister Nell (Ellen Page) practices taking the Harvard entrance exam and Dad (Callum Keith Rennie) relaxes on the couch reading with his tablet while watching TV. A breaking news story interrupts the programming stating that a massive power outage is occurring up and down the West Coast. Seconds later the power in the home goes out. It’s not the first time the family of three has had to deal with a power outage so they are prepared with plenty of flashlights. Then Eva notices that there is also no running water and gas for the generator is low so they decide to take a trip into town in the morning.
Unlike most films in the genre there are no zombies, no roving hordes of looters, and a dystopian society is not in place, well not yet. Perhaps the calmness can be attributed to the fact that this is only the beginning of what may be the end of times yet no one seems to be thinking on that wavelength. There is hope that the power will come back on at anytime and lives will go back to normal but the trip into town is an eye-opening experience for the three who notice some of their neighbors have fled and the shelves at the big box store are nearly empty.
The film is divided into chapters that signify the amount of time that goes by with no power and the sisters begin to learn how to survive off the land and without the luxury of electricity, Eva continues to practice her dancing (choreographed by Crystal Pite) by using a metronome and Nell has resorted to studying the old fashioned way, with books. After almost a year without power the fact that the sisters continue to practice and study maybe part denial of what has actually happened but then again you need to have some sort of normalcy in your life top keep from going insane.
Page (who also produced the film) and Wood are exceptional in the character-driven film and credible as sisters. Being isolated in the forest away from civilization doesn’t offer up any clues about what is happening in the outside world although there are hints as visitors like Nell’s boyfriend Eli (Max Minghella) stop by to give the girls the 411 on the latest rumors.
Expect more drama than action however there are quite a few gripping moments where the tension is high as the girls are faced by unforeseen circumstances. The striking British Columbia scenery (filling in for California) is aptly captured by cinematographer Daniel Grant and the soundtrack includes Cat Power’s beautiful rendition of “Wild is the Wind.”
It’s refreshing to see the whole apocalyptic genre from a different viewpoint and I found the lack of testosterone stimulating. The film’s ending will probably be interpreted by whether you consider yourself a glass “half-full” person or someone who looks at that glass as “half-empty.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 4.0 stars