The Way Back (Weir, 2010)

The Way Back (Peter Weir, 2010)

I wanted to love this film; I really, really did. Even while watching it, there were moments that had me convinced it was the best of the year. But unfortunately, there were several occasions of cringe-worthy dialogue often accompanied by a moment of annoying sentiment littered throughout. The final scene is also superfluous (and just plain awful), but I won’t discuss it here to keep it from being spoiled.

Despite all this, The Way Back is still Weir’s best (and most beautiful) film in a long time. After a quick opening section where the prisoners discuss and execute their escape, the movie really settles in with its pace, slowing things down to let us watch characters peer at the sunlight between their fingers, find gorgeous natural landmarks, and discuss the way they would cook their dream meal. During their long trek, Weir gives us an ample view of the vast array of landscape (and the contrast of woods, desert, and mountains). The film also succeeds in letting the journey act as the primary suspense mechanism. They come across a moose stuck in the mud and instead of a 10-minute struggle to kill it for food, there is a quick cut to a campfire with the characters halfway through their meal. Weir did a good job recognizing that a 4000 mile hike is a daunting enough task by itself.  8/10

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