Very well visualized guided tour through Northern Greenland, around an interesting story of Inuk's coming-of-age and his survival guide for the hostile icy environment
I saw this film at the Ghent (Belgium) film festival 2013, where it was part of the section Global Cinema. Though coming-of-age stories are not my favorite (probably too old to feel with the main characters), the synopsis on the festival website promised several other interesting aspects. This film comes from a country that we seldom see, with a climate not very inviting for tourists. Intriguingly announced as a "road movie on ice", it offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to virtually visit this part of the world.
The story starts with a dangerous journey on weak ice, undertaken nevertheless by Inuk's parents on their way to a hospital for urgent treatment. We see Inuk's father testing the ice before crossing dangerous areas, but gets drowned anyway in spite of his carefulness. We hear later on in the movie that the mother reached the hospital nevertheless, driven by sheer determination.
That positive side of the mother is not that prominent in subsequent scenes about 16 years later. She apparently cannot provide for a suitable income and a carefree home, and also entertains alcohol riddled parties at home. Inuk runs away from home after a heavy confrontation with one of the drunken friends of his mother. After some roving around he is picked up by the police. His mother is denied further care for her son, and Inuk is transferred to an orphanage in Northern Greenland because of his roots lying there.
In the course of an outdoors excursion, possibly to also educate the orphans on surviving in the hostile landscape around them, a journey over the icy landscape is undertaken under the guard of some experienced hunters. Very impressive are the stunning icescapes (you'll never get a chance to see this again), the dog sleds, their methods of coping with a hostile climate, and their immemorial traditions and working methods supporting survival on the long run. It all results very well in a takeaway experience, a welcome opportunity to watch all this from close by.
A few times there are pointers to the phenomenon of melting ice caps and its expected impact on hunters like we see in this part of Greenland. In other words, this film is not only a coming-of-age story for Inuk, but we touch a considerable change to Northern Greenland and its infrastructure too. It is not intended as global warming commentary, however, just a few side remarks to draw our attention to the obvious worries of the locals.
I'm not sure about the ending: was it a happy end, or something else?? The last 5 minutes fit the prologue where we saw Inuk's father drowning, and as such apparently intended to close the circle. But the accompanying story that was told to Inuk, seems a bit far fetched and too coincidental. Anyway, I cannot really care because it wraps up the film perfectly. The story itself is not that important, serving merely as a charming carrier for this compelling movie.
All in all, a well written script that is executed perfectly in spite of all the amateur actors involved, and all of that impressively visualized. This film ranked 14th for the audience award, with a good score of 4.38 out of 5. And last-but-not least there is an impressive soundtrack, well chosen at the right moments, but not outstaying its welcome at times when there was no need for it.
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