Long Way North

LONG WAY NORTH, an­i­mated drama, rated PG, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 3.5 chiles

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS -

The main char­ac­ter of this en­chant­ing an­i­mated film is an aris­to­cratic young woman with a strong will and an in­de­pen­dent spirit. The ac­tion takes place in a grand man­sion and icy north­ern re­gions. Sim­i­lar­i­ties aside, though, this is def­i­nitely no Frozen.

Long Way North is the di­rec­to­rial de­but of Rémi Chayé, who cut his teeth as sto­ry­boarder and first as­sis­tant direc­tor for The Se­cret of Kells, among oth­ers. Our hero­ine is fif­teen-year-old Sacha, the daugh­ter of no­bil­ity in czarist Rus­sia. Her beloved grand­fa­ther Oloukine, a well-known sci­en­tist and naval ex­plorer, set off in hopes of plant­ing the Rus­sian flag at the North Pole, never to re­turn. The govern­ment has of­fered a re­ward for the dis­cov­ery of his ship, but none of the nu­mer­ous mis­sions sal­lied thus far has been suc­cess­ful. On the af­ter­noon of her debu­tante ball, Sacha dis­cov­ers some of her grand­fa­ther’s pa­pers and re­al­izes he may have taken a dif­fer­ent route than ev­ery­one as­sumes. They have been search­ing in the wrong place, she be­lieves.

Sacha at­tempts to con­vince her par­ents and her es­cort for the ball — a much older prince to whom she has al­ready been promised in mar­riage — that a new mis­sion should be un­der­taken. Ev­ery­one rolls their eyes and tells her to be­have like a proper young lady. Un­daunted, Sacha steals a horse from her fam­ily’s sta­bles and sets out to find a ship and a crew will­ing to help with her quest. It’s a jour­ney as har­row­ing as any a Dis­ney char­ac­ter has faced, but Sacha will do what­ever it takes, even if she has to peel pota­toes, serve beer, and scrub dishes in a port­side bar.

While most pop­u­lar mod­ern an­i­mated films are loud, crude, and manic, Chayé’s is a calm, clear ex­am­ple of the ex­pres­sive power of sim­plic­ity. In­flu­enced by late-19th-cen­tury Rus­sian real­ist painters and 1940s Amer­i­can rail­way posters, his style has a graphic color-block qual­ity. He re­moves out­lines and keeps the color fills, which more ac­cu­rately re­flects the per­cep­tions of the hu­man eye. This works best in the por­tions of the film set amid vast icy ex­panses, and the story keeps pace: the fur­ther into the Arc­tic Sacha ven­tures, the more grip­ping it be­comes. The sound team brings real zeal to their work: winds gust, birds squawk, waves crash, and ice cracks, mak­ing the ac­tion seem all the more vivid. Al­though Claire Pao­letti, Pa­tri­cia Valeix, and Fabrice de Cos­til’s story is un­com­pli­cated and slow at times, they refuse to weave in a love story, which so many main­stream films can’t re­sist. Sacha is a role model par­ents should be happy to in­tro­duce to their chil­dren — no catchy pop tunes, toys, or fast-food meals re­quired. — Lau­rel Glad­den

A gen­tle­woman al­ways knows how to break the ice: Long Way North’s Sacha

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.