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'The Long Way North' is a Short Way to Boredom

Janeen Mathisen

Posted on April 24, 2020 21:11

1 user

While gorgeously animated, this film is lacking in the substance it so desperately needs.

The Long Way North is a beautifully animated film that flounders when it comes to writing and character. Recently added to IMBD TV, this French-Danish film, helmed by director Rémi Chayé, is about a young girl, Sasha, in 19th century Russia who journeys into the Arctic to reclaim her famous grandfather's lost exploring vessel. The film is colorful and soft; everything is animated color-on-color, with no black outlines save for noses and mouths. It's worth a watch just for the memorable visuals alone — well, almost. Unfortunately, appearance alone is not enough to save a film.

This movie grapples with an identity crisis. Simple character designs contrasts with the terribly slow pacing, especially at the climax. Slow pacing is traditionally associated with mature, adult films. Any adult sitting through a plot such as this, led on by the maturity the film sometimes hints at, is to be commended: the plot and characters are so bafflingly written it cannot be said to be worth anyone's time, no matter their age. Like the frozen vessel after which the main character hunts, this movie is immobilized with self-imposed boredom.

Sasha works at an inn before setting off; this is supposed to strength her character, but in addition to failing that, as her winy personality is always under the surface, this segment does nothing to advance the story. It gives the illusion of narrative momentum while remaining stock still. The singularly 'heroic' thing she does in the entire film is tying a sailor's knot during a storm to prevent some items being ripped away.

However, that action is inconsequential to her character development as she remains a passive bystander to events afterwards, as if that supposed moment of bravery never happened. In this movie's myriad of problems, Sasha's moping attitude is a constant stain spoiling the beautiful, colorful animation.

Personal stakes are unclear as Sasha chases the vessel. The plot goes into new territory of ridiculous when the crew manages to destroy their own ship and get stranded on the ice. Sasha wanders off into a sub-zero blizzard because of a minor conflict, and then nearly freezes to death underneath an avalanche. Yet, she inexplicably survives.

The crew says they have food for less than a week, but last for many more. In a climax in the bitter freezing Arctic, something as vital as logic has no hold over them. When Sasha and the crew locate the lost, frozen ship, the implausibility of it working after decades of disuse strips the ending of any remaining emotion. It's cheap in comparison to the thoughtfulness given to the rest of the pacing.

While The Long Way North is delightful to look at, unfortunately it isn't much else. This is an Arctic venture you should do best to avoid.

Janeen Mathisen

Posted on April 24, 2020 21:11

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Source: The Escapist

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