Far North (2007) Poster

(2007)

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10/10
A Concerto for Trio and Arctic Tundra
gradyharp5 October 2008
FAR NORTH is a bleak, disturbing story about isolation, relationships and revenge. Director Asif Kapadia adapted this minimal dialogue screenplay with Tim Miller based on the story 'True North' by Sara Maitland, and even with the strong trio of actors, have managed to maintain the main character as the vast, natural, incomprehensibly difficult ice seas of the northern cap of the globe. The film is as majestically beautiful as the story is terrifying.

Saiva (Michelle Yeoh) was pronounced evil by a shaman who witnessed her birth: any person who comes near her will fall to harm. Cast out from her tribe, Saiva has survived into adulthood accompanied by the young girl Anja (Michelle Krusiec) she has raised, living a simple existence in tents, dependent on any available food, and always in hiding from a strange pursuing army of soldiers: flashbacks show how Saiva had been physically abused by this strange band of wandering men. When danger approaches, the two women simply move on. Saiva finds an injured and starving soldier Yoki (Sean Bean) who is likewise escaping from the marauding band, and brings him into her tent, nursing him to health, exchanging signs of friendship to a stranger that seems so natural yet so foreign to guarded Saiva. As Yoki recovers, Anja's curiosity about love and men is heightened and soon Anja and Yoki are planning to strike out on their own. When Saiva witnesses the passion between the two people in her life, she reacts as a threatened animal and the horrors that follow echo across the frozen ice of her isolated life.

Michelle Yeoh is astonishingly fine in this difficult role and Krusiec and Bean provide solid ensemble support. Praise must go to Asif Kapadia for his tense direction of this thriller, but kudos are also in order for the extraordinary cinematography by Roman Osin and the appropriately eerie musical score by Dario Marianelli. Much of what happens in this film is shocking to the viewer's senses, but it so in keeping with the animal responses in nature that it says much about our concept of 'civilization'. FAR NORTH is a remarkable achievement. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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10/10
If you're more into Hollywood blockbusters, you'll probably hate this film
learco13 October 2009
This film truly is Far North of anything you've seen before. It caught me by surprise. Had second thoughts before seeing it. Was very happy to have seen it. Unusual story. Interesting. Well made. If there is something typical here its the way the director takes his time to depict the entire situation of the characters. He is not unlike other directors who are not concerned about not showing something every few minutes just to engage, excite or keep his audience. Patience is a virtue I am happy to have and which served me well in viewing this film. Those who are more into usual Hollywood fare (and those who like their films to be easily explained/understood) will probably not like this film. If you want to appreciate this film (and most works of art), you have to keep an open mind. I highly recommend this film.
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9/10
Beautiful Movie, Loved the Ending
remittancegirl20 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I must disagree with many of the other comments here. Personally, I really liked the way the story/movie ended. The story has a mythic quality to it that is reminiscent of Native American folktales: merciless, inevitable, and grounded.

Certainly, if people were hoping for a happy-ever-after movie, they would be disappointed. But the casual brutality of the way Saiva kills the dog at the beginning should have been a clue for viewers.

In the end, each of the characters ends up living out their destiny, even if it has been postponed for a while: Saiva becomes the solitary, evil woman she was predicted to be by the shaman, Anya dies as she would have had Saiva not saved her, and Loki freezes to death, as he would have if Saiva had not found him. In the end, Saiva has undone all the ways in which she attempted to escape fate, and the others have followed.

It's a tale of destinies postponed, but finally met. For this reason, I found the story very mythic, almost like a Greek tragedy.
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8/10
Beautiful and saddening
candyflossvictim1 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I thought that Far North really reflected traits that all humans hold, however deeply we may bury them. Greed, survival and the need to be loved.

When Saiva, Michelle Yeoh, was born her tribe shaman told her mother that she would grow to be evil and that everyone close to her would die. So as soon as she is old enough she is banished to travel and live alone. But she soon meets a tribe when they are rounding up the caribou and she becomes close to one man in particular.

Then the Russians invade their land and she comes back from a short trip to discover soldiers have killed the whole tribe, except her man friend and a baby. They are still there, though, and they rape her after slitting the man's throat. She escapes with the baby, though we are never sure whether it is her daughter or someone else's. We cannot be sure of the time frame in these flashbacks, as Kapadia has left this open to interpretation.

I'm not sure whether this is good or bad, good in the sense that spectators can defend Saiva's actions at the end if they so wish or bad because it requires less effort to speculate on facts rather than assumptions.

The ending itself is truly disturbing, it kept me thinking and reflecting for days on end. 'Disturbing' was the word I used to describe it to others, quickly adding that this was a good film. I did enjoy it; the scenery itself was almost overwhelmingly beautiful and was matched in its beauty by the cinematography. The performance from Yeoh was lovely to watch, and in my opinion her character was easy to make an allegiance with, as I could understand her reasons for doing what she did at the end.

Her performance was strongly supported by Michelle Krusiec and Sean Bean, although it could perhaps be said that Krusiec made her character a bit too ahead of her time. And judging by the ending for Mr. Bean, I think I can safely assume that he'll be staying in climates above 0 degrees Celsius for quite sometime...wearing as many layers as possible.
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7/10
Absorbing and terrifying in equal measure, Far North didn't reach very far in terms of audiences but is certainly one to seek out.
johnnyboyz18 December 2009
Somewhat under-looked British director Asif Kapadia's 2007 film, Far North, opens with a rather exquisite tracking shot which sweeps across a very large, very open ice glacier that is shown to be split in several areas and thus, beginning to fall apart. The manner in which Kapadia's film opens echoes the manner in which it closes, with a similar tracking shot over what appears to be the same spread of ice – both sequences are representative of both the society within the film, as well as the mother-daughter bond two people of that ilk share and experience throughout. Cracks are initially there, as if something is melting or falling apart; and are apparent in the opening shot, while the condition of the glacier at the very end is representative of just how far things have come between the two people and the world around them as we witness those respective horrors and see the condition of the ice at the end.

Unfolding in a large and ice cold location, which is wide enough to encompass Russian soldiers; people whose names sound Nordic as well as characters whom might well be of either Kazakh or Tajik descent, although shot in Norway, the film covers the trials and experiences of a middle aged woman named Saiva (Yeoh) and her adopted younger daughter named Anja (Krusiec). Saiva and Anja's basic, but brutal, way of life is thrust into our faces by way of some shock tactics of animalistic levels, in which an animal itself is on the wrong end of some harm. This rather shocking sequence of raw predicament and must-do human survival consequently sets the overall tone of the film; that raw look at how human beings act and react when push turns to shove and emotions, sensations and predicaments must be confronted. Throughout, murder and savagery is the order of the day and desperate scenarios are used as the basis for the human mind to act as the subject of the study.

The film is narrated to us by Saiva, whose opening speech tells us of how a village elder of some description once told her many years ago that she would bring death and wrong-doing to whomever she cared for, or just generally loved. Looking up the daughter's name, Anja, on Wikipedia sees you directed to 'Anya'; which I read translates out of Russian and into English as 'bringing goodness', thus interestingly contradicting Saiva's supposed curse. The two seem to have gotten along rather well for all these years, what could possibly go wrong?

Saiva and Anja travel around quite a bit, in fact they travel a lot. Despite being located within the large, open and daunting snowy wilderness in which they're based; it cannot hide them from the dangers that lurk within. The reason for their constant moving around is due to a large group of Russian soldiers who, for unspecified reasons, are hopping from town-to-town; village-to-village; settlement-to-settlement, murdering the inhabitants; raping the women and pillaging any of the goods. Indeed, there is an altercation later on in which the threat of skinning a baby alive is issued by those nasty Russkies - crikey. The extent as to exactly what's going on is never fully explained, which is a route Kapadia wisely decides to go down so as to not veer too far away from what the film is essentially about: this rural set drama with essence of romance; horrifically looking at the results of conflict within a close-knit bond. What it isn't, is a war film exploring the extent of a conflict and consequent would-be escape of two innocents.

The conflict within arises when a certain Loki stumbles into their world. Loki, played by Sean Bean in a role that somewhat goes against his usual on-screen type, is found by one of the women when out on a hunting expedition. He is a solider, only he is not of the Russian variety, and seems to be in just as much danger as the women are in relation to them. Loki's introduction to the text, and his existence in the text, creates direct opposition to the established norms and ways of life the women go by. His entering the fray is a mixture of west meeting east; of male meeting female and of the modern world meeting the ancient. These ideas are expressed in his ability to introduce modernity to the two in the form of a transistor radio which clearly excites Anya, as well as the mending of a motor on the back the women's boat which they'd previously only got about in by way of rowing. The instance in which the motor starts running sees Saiva realise this, and has her cautiously approach the rear in an attempt to try and make sense of it all; since it is this new, unfamiliar and outside force now driving them.

Like the director's 2001 effort The Warrior, the film is beautiful but brutal in equal measure. It unfolds a stark, harsh narrative amidst the backdrop of a stunning locale in which unflinching content and the dire realities of life under these conditions, particularly in regards to garnering food by way of killing animals, is given as much focus as the characters themselves. The film's opinion of sex as an item, or event, that destroys and tears apart is reinforced when two people move closer by way of making-love, although it destroys someone else's link to both of them and also when a hideous realisation is made during an additional sex scene. While unfortunately denied of a universally wider release, and consequently more exposure, Far North is a frightening film that taps into the human mind and exposes its raw state of existence, and how ugly it can turn, by way of sin.
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8/10
A tale of allegory not psychology
cranialsi27 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
For those of you who missed it, and that appears to be most who posted on here, the film is essentially a allegorical tale (ie a metaphor that appeals to the imagination rather than reason).

In this film we are treading the difficult path of archetypes, mixed with shamanism from a pan-cultural Arctic perspective. Savia is the Exile, cursed from birth to bring destruction to those around her, she is also the Witch who once spurned by the fleeing near-dead Adventurer exacts revenge on her Ward by stealing her face to entice and deceive her spurning Lover. In a sense Bean's Loki pays the price for choosing the physical beauty and youth of Krusiec's Anja over gratitude to his Saviour Saiva (who by the way when he asks 'How can I repay you? Savia replies 'We shall see' implying she sees he has the debt of his life owing to her);

An interesting addendum to this is that 'Loki' is the Scandinavian Trickster or Fool (much as he appears at the beginning of the film carrying his belongings this time on a sledge). Unlike the wise Fool who pays his debt however he takes the path of the real Fool and spurns the one who saves him. For this both have then to pay the price.

Beautifully shot and directed, in lengthening the story it resembles many folk-tales of many cultures.
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7/10
Disturbing and Frightening
claudio_carvalho15 April 2014
In an indefinite time somewhere in the Arctic with Soviet soldiers, the nomads Saiva (Michelle Yeoh) and her stepdaughter Anja (Michelle Krusiec) are permanently moving seeking a safe place in the arctic tundra. They camp in a remote area far north where Saiva believes they will be safe and survive fishing and hunting reindeer and small animals. Their lives change when Saiva finds Loki (Sean Bean), a frozen stranger that is dying in the ice. Saiva brings him to their tent and recalls when she met her boyfriend and his tribe; how soviet soldiers have slaughtered them and raped her; and how she rescued Anja and killed the aggressors. When Loki is recovered, he and Anja fall in love with each other, affecting her relationship with Anja.

The independent "Far North" is a disturbing and frightening movie about curse and love. The story is open regarding the location and time, but is an excellent study of solitude and human behavior. The landscapes and locations in Svalbard are wonderfully shot and the performances are top notch. The unexpected conclusion is scary. The "Making Of" on the DVD is a must-see. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): Not Available
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6/10
Neither fish nor fowl
Jonathan Dore31 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Commenter dave-1827 has it right. The brutally sudden transition at the end, when Saiva apparently ceases to be the damaged but recognizably human personality she has been for the previous 85 minutes and suddenly becomes an automated machine of mythic destruction, simply does not work: the transition does not add an interesting twist, or take the story onto another level, it's simply a noisy and inept crashing of narrative gears, that becomes more irritating the more I think about it. The character Saiva, as beautifully portrayed by Michelle Yeoh in the main, "realistic" body of the film, could simply never perform the actions the story gives her at the end out of such a banal motive as sexual jealousy -- the only plausible motivation she is given. The person who struggled to shake off the "curse" her tribe had hung around her neck would not suddenly embrace it to this ridiculous extent.

So are we meant to "read back" this mythic take into the rest of the, at first glance realistic, story? If so, the setting is a problem: The clothing and speech seem to indicate a Siberian setting. Does it become "mythic" because a couple of the Chukchi reindeer herders appear, inexplicably, to hail from Mumbai rather than Chukotka? Not really -- it just looks ridiculous. The rifles are plainly later 20th century; the outboard motor suggests a date sometime after 1960; and the wind-up radio places it after 1996 (Trevor Baylis invented the idea in 1989; Baygen produced the first commercial models in 1996). So what war were Russian soldiers fighting in Siberia after 1996? Sorry, but you can't have it both ways: if you put your story in such a distinctly real place and such a recent time, you can't expect people to accept it as a mythic anytime or a fictitious anywhere. Kapadia's earlier film "Warrior" was similarly set in a location and period that couldn't quite be pinned down, but that didn't present a problem because the period in question was at least several centuries safely in the past. He should have remembered that example this time round, or for a similar idea in an Arctic setting he should have looked at Nils Gaup's wonderful, and *consistently* mythic, "Ofelas" ("Pathfinder", 1987, not the dreadful 2007 remake). The reviewer for "Variety" hit the nail on the head: the climax of "Far North" requires a "suspension of disbelief the pic doesn't earn".

I'm giving this film 6 stars simply in recognition of two wonderful performances, from Michelle Yeoh and Sean Bean, who both portray the uncertainties and vulnerabilities of real human beings in what they must have assumed was intended to be a realistic setting.

What the film demonstrates, surprisingly, is that mythic archetypes do not actually provide much insight into human psychology -- they were simply the best adumbrations of human types that pre-literate societies could come up with. Anyone who's read a novel by George Eliot or Hermann Hesse or Hardy or Mann has access to far richer, truer, more complex and more convincing portrayals of human personalities than were available to the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, or anyone else. It's three dimensions instead of one, colour instead of black and white.
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7/10
Ice cold in the setting and in the telling
eatfirst28 December 2010
In an unspecified land of tundra and ice, a mother and daughter, estranged from their tribes-people, alone and on the run from a brutal hired army, are struggling to survive in this harsh, desolate landscape. Into their lives walks an escaped press-ganged soldier, barely alive, and a tragic chain of events is set in motion.

London born film-maker Asif Kapadia knows how to capture isolation. He finds it in the sombre monochrome landscapes of this Arctic tale, and equally in the eyes of his lead actress, Michelle Yeoh. She plays Saiva, a woman who has borne a curse since birth foretelling that she will bring misfortune upon anyone who gets close to her. Forced out of her tribe, she lives nomadically, with only her grown-up daughter for company. Theirs is a never ending routine of hand-to-mouth survival and constant relocation to ever more lonely shores. The films' establishing shots of expansive ice flows are set to a soundtrack of groaning, creaking tension and cracks beneath the surface. Once Sean Bean's on- the-run Soldier arrives to upset the balance of their simple existence, it soon becomes apparent that Saiva shares much in common with the ice pack surrounding her.

So effectively does Asif conjure the quiet, contemplative mood and pace of much Scandinavian or Russian cinema that it comes as quite a shock when the main trio of characters open their mouths (which they do only rarely) and talk in English. The point is that it does not matter what language they speak, as the location and even the precise period of this story is kept deliberately vague. Just as it matters not what strange language it is that the other invading soldiers speak to themselves, only that it is not familiar. They are the aliens here.

For much of its short running time not a lot seems to be happening here, but there is not a wasted moment or unnecessary scene. Judicious use of flashbacks provide insight into the moments that have forged Saiva's tough and ruthless survival instincts. While in the present, much is communicated in silence by the glances of desire and jealousy that the trio exchange. Sean Bean comfortably inhabits the role of decent but morally weak man, but it's Michelle Yeoh's steely, haunted central performance that grabs and pulls you in. Like some Merchant-Ivory period drama stripped of all its airs and finery, we are in a world of suppressed emotions and mounting tensions. The palpable sense that something has to give is the overriding drive towards the startling climax.
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7/10
Far North: An Entrancing Spectacle
imagiking3 February 2011
Something I set to record more on the basis of its setting than anything else, Far North is something of which I'd never heard, nor indeed would have by anything other than chance. Chance was in my favour however, thrusting me and this little production together.

Saiva and Anja are two women, the former the adoptive mother of the latter, living an isolated life away from the community from which they originally came, Saiva alleged at birth by a shaman to be cursed. Their lives are interrupted when a wounded soldier stumbles into their camp, affecting the routine of their days.

The tundra-central setting—the primary motivation for my opting to devote recording space to this film—is the first thing about Far North to attract our attention. The vast whiteness of this unoccupied land is explored beautifully through the usage of wide angle lenses, a sweeping opening shot, and the sole spot of blackness that is the yurt of our protagonist duo. Theirs is a quiet relationship, the intimacy they share communicated through the slightest of gestures rather than expository dialogue. The film is impressively silent, much of its running time featuring no sounds other than the constant bitter wind which pervades the soundtrack. The combination of image and sound in the film is meditative, such beautiful images as the Aurora Borealis, the great snowy mountains, and the rolling hills so covered in impenetrable whiteness that it is hard not to be lost in their banal perfection entirely unforgettable. Largely a three-hander, the film's performances are the tent-poles which support it, the particularly commendable quietness of Michelle Yeoh lending a dignified tragedy to her character. The relationships form the film's centrepiece, the evolution of these over the course of the narrative compelling and unpredictable. Twist is an inaccurate word to apply to a film of this sort, but it stores a number of surprises up its sleeve, the particular paths taken towards its denouement rather unconventional and, often, shocking. It is an emotional film, structured masterfully around these three characters and reinforced fantastically with splendid cinematography. The cold whites and blues of the arctic are contrasted wonderfully with the warm yellows and oranges of Saiva's flashback to times when she was with her community: when she had love, friendship, and hope. It is difficult not to be saddened by the melancholy the film presents, punctuated though it is by moments of silent beauty.

An entrancing spectacle, Far North offers the very best of the fine combination one can craft with cinematography and setting. Expressing itself slowly and almost silently, it is a film that relies on artistic expression rather than speech; on the strength of its performances rather than action. Added to unquestionably by its wonderful score, it is a highpoint of modern independent cinema.
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disturbing
jasonwightman20 October 2008
Rarely does a move disturb me and haunt my thoughts for any length of time. This one has.

I highly recommend.

I will have to watch again because I wasn't paying the greatest attention to the foreshadowing and buildup, I wasn't sure where the movie was going, but man what a 'trippy' flick when it all unravels.

The way this movie was done is really cool, I wondered why everything started so vaguely, and now I realize how well that vagueness lent itself to the overwhelmingly powerful emotion of this movie. Almost channeled it in fact.

I am amazed at the range of feelings I experienced from this movie and how my feeling changed for the characters. I attribute that to the sincere acting, the dramatic story line, and the vivid yet harsh visual aspects.
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6/10
Beautiful film that doesn't work in the end
dave-182713 September 2008
Someone in comments mentioned that this film is based on a short story by Sara Maitland written in "fairy-tale mode." Think Greek tragedy, or the Brothers Grimm at their grimmest, not Disney. Another commenter wondered if the story could actually work as a film. I don't think it does.

Most of the film is in a very realistic mode and only toward the end did the characters stop being people one could care about and become only tragic archetypes. I have to say I felt somewhat betrayed for caring so much for the characters. Perhaps if I'd been forewarned I would have watched with more detachment and been less disappointed.

Still, it's a beautiful film; the arctic landscape is awe inspiring. It must have been a great adventure to film. Sean Bean, Michelle Yeoh and Michelle Krusiec do an excellent job, but it seems like a waste in the end. 6/10 for being an interesting and beautiful failure.
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7/10
Great photography. Realistic lifestyle. Tragic ending of a dark tale
Guam_Critic5 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Story of the sad lives of what might be two indigenous Siberian women interacting with Russian-speaking soldiers. It appears to take place off the east coast of Russia or the former Soviet Union. Though I have not read or researched the book (Far North and Other Dark Tales by Sara Maitland), the Russian speaking soldiers mentioned they want to get back to the "Mainland". Thus, it might take place on the island of Sakhalin, or the Kamchatka Peninsula.

The title of the book mentions "Dark Tales" and the already dreary setting ends tragically. So tragically, in fact, that I will not permit my family to watch it.

It contains disturbing scenes of what is now referred to genocide, allegedly being carried out by what appear to be Russian speaking soldiers against the indigenous east Asian hunter-herders. Time era appears to be post World War II judging by a transistor radio.

If you do not mind the tragedy, it is a good flick to see the cold mountainous subarctic.
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10/10
WOW where was this gem hiding
wildlime13 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I decided to watch this on a lazy afternoon recovering from a hangover. I have a bit of soft spot for Michelle Yeoh and seeing the firl from Memoirs of a Japanese Geisha sparked my interest to.

The movie starts off a little rough and hard to watch as the mother has to kill one of her dogs to feed herself and her daughter. The rest of the movie is very well shot and the acting is very good.

I don't want to give away to much as this is well worth the watch and I am sure anyone who sees it will be disappointed.

Wonder why this didn't get a wider release?

If you like Michelle Yeoh you will love this movie.
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7/10
Is it a horror film? a lovely film from the beginning, spoiled at the end...
anbei6819 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
i was surprised by michelle yeoh s performing in the film, and especially this film has nothing to do with martial art or action. it seems to be that nowadays so many martial artist actors and actress are keen on transferring away from action films which they are most good at.

And there has been wonderful and powerful expression right from the beginning of this film. The view and landscape in this film truly make it really worthwhile to watch. However the way this film ended is a bit messy. Despite the extraordinary performance by all 3 of the main roles, the ending almost made me feel like this movie is actually made as a horror film. The problem is that i felt a bit disgusted rather than feeling the connection of impact or a strong and persuasive message being sent by the film maker.

7 out of 10. not very impressed by the ending...
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10/10
Far North, still waters are deep and cold indeed…
vioreloancia24 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A film built in on secret human desires, on people instincts. Many movies have failed to deliver such feelings in the past. This one isn't!

Far North is calm in the beginning only to shatter the heart in the end. This movie it is not about a woman or two, not about a man, but feels more like an ice cold journey into the real nature of humankind. Be warned, you might not like what is to be found there.

This is the only film I know, which clearly draws a 'bold' red line between a woman in her twenties and a woman in her forties.

I saw it just now and I liked this movie more than I would ever want to admit here. Although it has some minor loose elements, in the end nothing really matters. To me, this is a 10+ movie! Congratulations to all the people involved in the making!

"Let me comb your hair (so you'll be beautiful for him), you must look your best for Loki when he returns…"

Far North, in loneliness and isolation, these words may and do have a different meaning…
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8/10
Slow-moving, unique, and enthralling
Leofwine_draca11 July 2016
FAR NORTH is one of those simple little under-the-radar movies that you never heard about until it turns up in the middle of the night and you gradually become enthralled watching it. With no buzz, publicity, or plot spoilers, I had no idea what to expect when I sat down to watch this, and I was pleasantly surprised by a film that confounded all of my expectations. The film is almost like a fairy tale in its simplicity: a mother-and-daughter team, living alone in the icy Siberian wastes, are joined by a soldier gone A.W.O.L. The film is about what happens next: how the power shifts and inevitable romance affects each character, and three people in such an isolated setting can never really work.

Visually, the film is stunning. The inhospitable climate is a personality all in itself and the harshness of the landscape is captured in stunning detail – no more so than in the shocking opening sequence. There isn't a great deal of dialogue, but what we do get is natural and realistic. Key flashbacks add to the viewer's understanding and the film finishes on a shocking twist. Best of all is the acting: three actors giving excellent, against the grain performances.

Michelle Krusiec is the young unknown, holding her own against two experienced hands. Sean Bean is a gentle and romantic man, giving a more touching performance than we usually see. Michelle Yeoh is the older woman, an outsider struggling to come to terms with the meaning of her life. Out of all three, it's Yeoh who gives the most stunning performance; she's totally cast against type (usually playing a kick-ass kung fu heroine) and she gets her character across wonderfully. What a revelation!
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8/10
Gorgeous and haunting exploration of isolation's toll.
thisjustinsherman18 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I started watching this movie on a lark, really; I saw what looked like Sean Bean on the poster but without his name listed on the display, and was simply curious to see if it was actually him. I'm terribly glad that I did.

The movie is simply beautiful; fantastically shot and with very effective use of sound, long swaths of icy water creaking and crackling in transition from scene to scene in perfect marriage with the mood of the film. The performances are stellar all around, and the arc and the pace of the story are such that the ending will catch you entirely off-guard, thinking there must be at least another half-hour or so of resolution prior to the lead's brutal decision.

The criticisms I see of this film are odd ones. First off that the time-period, which is intentionally left quite ambiguous but is also clearly relatively modern, doesn't lend itself to the nature of the story. That couldn't be more wrong to my mind, as it was important to convey that these two women are living 'out of time', made into things of myth by the cruel label of their culture and their self-imposed isolation... people who don't really 'belong' in any age, past or future.

The other criticism I see is that the character's final actions are unbelievable, as Saiva seemed too good a person, and 'her only possible motivation could be sexual jealousy', which is inadequate. This, too, is just plain wrong, and rooted in two assumptions: the first being that we got to know Saiva well, which we most certainly didn't. We know she was banished, we know she had a husband who was brutally murdered, we know she was raped, we know she found a baby, we know she killed several men. That is -all- we know about her. What we infer about who she is/how she feels from that is just supposition, clearly incorrect in most cases. The second assumption is that sexual jealousy was the only motivation. This is hugely incorrect. Loneliness was the motivation; the crushing isolation she had faced before and faced again now that her 'daughter' and Loki were leaving. She was jealous yes, supremely so, but it wasn't just sexual jealousy. Her envy was of a loving life; a life in which she could love and be loved, something she only got the very briefest taste of when she married, only for her new family to be slaughtered before it could bear fruit. She wanted to be Anja, young and uncursed, with a future and a man and children of her own. She could have accepted being a third wheel, the older 'concubine', and was trying once Anja and Loki started making love unabashedly to squeeze her way into that role. When it turned out to be in vain, and Anja and Loki decided to abandon her, it clearly pushed her over the edge she'd probably been walking all of her life. She didn't make that grisly disguise for the sake of simple lust and brutal womanly rivalry, it was psychotic episode; the straw that broke the camel's back in a long life of horror and crushing loneliness, and tossed her to the teeth of a madness that had probably been circling her all of her days.
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9/10
I'm scared
mac24736528 December 2008
I watched this a day after i watched Boy A hoping for romance and love. oh you'll get that alright.

Very sad, you'll be thinking about this one for a few days after watching.Shows human nature (greed).

Great movie for when you're hungover as one said i think. The serenity reminded me of Into The Wild which is a fantastic movie too.

I need help, I'm very depressed at the moment after watching these, but funny enough i love the feeling as I'm such a happy person all the time.

I like quiet movies where there's not much talking, they don't have many fans. If you like them try The New World, Romulus My Father.
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8/10
Very beautiful film with a very excellent ending!
theflautist8221 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The film impressed me with its picturesque of icelands and its nature. I had already known that the film would be slow on progress. I had had no background info about the film such as it was a tale of Sara or had a dark topic. Luckily i hadn't. It became more fun to watch and to be shocked in the end.

In our normal lives, jealousy has a potential power on how we behave some people. Jeaoulsy brings the anger with itself. We hate people whom we feel jealous at. But we are living in a social environment where there are restrictions, so we cannot expose our anger when or where i want.

In the middle of nowhere during world war II, a mother with her only daughter try to survive eating even their dogs. They sleep hugging each other for years. one day a strangers comes up. the mother likes him and her daughter too. Just before the mother gives her first kiss to him, the daughter shows up and steals the handsome guy from her hands. (here i felt from the mother that something is really bad going to happen.) A love begins between the guy and the daughter. One day the daughter says that she will leave with the guy and let the mother alone in the hell out of the ices. The mother cant help her anger because she will be left by her only daughter who doesn't even know the guy enough, and by the guy who once put a kiss to herself and makes her remember her husband died. Because of these two reasons, she killed her daughter and the guy (caused him to be friezed outside naked). It of course seemed not normal to me and i know it is against human rights :) But come on guys we are watching film here! It is nowhere in the middle of icelands and it is in the past. Shaman cursed the girl. Her husband was killed in front of her eyes. She was raped and concluded with the death of 4 Russian guys by her bare hands. What is normal here?!

I found the film logical and beautiful.
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6/10
Astonishing cinematography, terrifying storyline
kozto6 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Meditative, thoughtful love story told against the silently cruel arctic landscape. Almost wordless intercourse between Russian refugee soldier, presumably diamond or gold digger, and two female natives, mature and young one. And, as usual, love, jealousy and revenge go hand in hand.

Great cinematographic and actors' performance will be appreciated by the cinephiles with some refined taste, but the end of the story was a kind of disappointment for me. Yes, it's obviously foreseeable end, but it was impossible for me to predict the way that revenge can come. Figuratively speaking, exaggerated evil envy served by the director as the grateful disciple's acknowledge of Kim Ki-Duk's poetic violence mastership.
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1/10
What IS this????
charlie_mcp8 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Far North is one of the worst films i have ever seen. A pointless tale that fails to entertain (except for the unintentionally hilarious ending) or inform, it's one saving grace being it only last for 89 minutes.

The film plods along for 70 or so minutes without a lot happening, except for a man falling in love with a young girl, and the other, older girl looking slightly annoyed. It is then revealed that the older girl saved the younger girl from some soldiers. However, 70 minutes or so into the film, she feels the need to strangle the girl she saved and cut her face off when she reveals she is leaving with the man. Pretty unconvincing stuff.

At the start of the film i thought that possibly this film would have a political theme about mining coal in the Tundra, but not so. No information is given to WHEN this film is set, except for the presence of soldiers, so assumingly during war time.

Even the scenery isn't convincing, the boat scenes on the rivers are clearly backdrops.

This film will bore you to death for the vast majority of its duration, with an ending that will baffle you and probably make you laugh. Do yourself a favour and give this one a miss.
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2/10
Possible talent wasted on untenable exaggeration
paduxx10 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
HUGE SPOILER IN THIS REVIEW.

But, you would surely be better off for reading it.

Other reviews have covered most of the general aspects, but, to avoid a HUGE spoiler, have seemingly soft pedaled on the ending.

Perhaps the story on which this movie is supposed to be based is to blame, but while much of the movie is reasonably classily made, the ending is TOO stupid and ridiculous for words. Such an ending does NOT deserve such good story telling capability in the movie crew or the acting talents of the actors. How stupid do the film makers expect the viewers to be to accept that the protagonist can kill some one, skin their face and wear it as a mask to pass off as the victim and worse expect further stupidity in believing that the murderer can, with such, skinned mask, get intimate with the victim's lover who will get on full gusto with the intimacy with NO clue for several movie minutes!!!

Full fault on the director for choosing to film this story bereft of sanity or even plausibility.
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7/10
Stunning cinematography, unusual story..
artu_ue8 February 2010
This is a dark slow ride film with minimal dialogue. Hard and brutal life, death, survival, escape from evils of society, clash of tradition and civilization are presented here in a not so violent way, but still mind crashing and a few disturbing scenes that will make some people hate this film.

The cinematography is stunning. The arctic landscapes, low light, sounds of wilderness make it worthwhile to watch the film. The main actress Yeoh is perfect, the younger one Krusiec is good too, but Bean wasn't quite inspiring for some reason.

If we put aside the fact that we definitely can't be sure where and when exactly this is supposed to have happened (and many of us do have doubts in it being realistic), then it's a lot easier to accept the film's unusual story and dive into it our own way It's a film you can only like or dislike. Shocking, whether in good or bad sense, so suit yourselves.
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An honest review.
cleanfun-16 February 2012
If there is a war being waged between good and evil, between right and wrong, then everyone involved in the production of this movie have aligned themselves on the side of evil.

I'm not sure what it is about modern movies being made with the sole intention of hurting your mind, but this is just another one of those. You will be no better off for having seen this. You will not be improved. You will not be educated. You will not be enlightened. You will not be entertained. There is no good in it at all. It's just trash.

If you like Michelle Yeoh, turn off Far North right away. I have no idea why she would agree to play in this abomination. My very high opinion of her fell dramatically.

The title of the movie and the book are both terribly misleading. This story could have taken place in any setting. You see Michelle Yeoh in an eskimo outfit and take into consideration the title, The Far North, and you think that it might be a love story. It most definitely is not.

The viewer is literally tricked into watching this movie from the beginning up until the very last moment where the filthy excuses for human beings spring their trap. Boom, they win. They've put something in your mind that you would never have agreed to allow in. And you most definitely wouldn't pay for it. This is not entertainment.

I'd like to believe that the majority isn't going to tolerate this from the mainstream for much longer. People seriously need to start fighting back. At the very least, there should be a new rating introduced. Like rated L for liberal entertainment.
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