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article imageReview: ‘Into the Forest’ advocates a more natural existence Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 3, 2016 in Entertainment
‘Into the Forest’ uses the cessation of the civilized world to examine the bond between two dissimilar sisters drawn together in survival.
When asked who they’d like to spend the end of the world with, the most common response is family and friends. But the end of modern civilization doesn’t automatically equal the end of the world and those closest to you may have different priorities. Running water, electricity and grocery stores are relatively recent luxuries that certainly simplified life, but they’re not necessarily essential to survival. A lot of factors are involved and it definitely helps to have achieved some level of self-sufficiency prior to any disaster. Into the Forest demonstrates given the right tools, it’s trying but not impossible to return to the Stone Age.
Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva’s (Evan Rachel Wood) father (Callum Keith Rennie) insisted they live in a beautiful house deep in the woods. It would take about three days to hike to the nearest town and the closest neighbour wouldn’t be able to hear you scream. His idealism becomes both a blessing and a curse as their would-be self-contained home is still incomplete when the entire country loses power and consequently all other manner of civilization. They have an endless supply of firewood and can collect rainwater, but the solar panels were never connected and the roof severely leaks. As weeks turn into months, they’re forced to defend their territory against man and beast, cope with the seemingly permanent end to normalcy, and adapt quickly to alternative ways of fulfilling their basic needs.
It’s never revealed why the father decided to build the secluded cabin, other than he appears handy and outdoorsy. But it unquestionably puts their family at an advantage when order and progress crumble. Unlike most people, they’re equipped to survive comfortably without utilities and are far enough off the beaten path to avoid most of the chaos caused by the failure. With a convenient supply of helpful books, they’re also able to research various methods of finding and preserving more food. In short, this isn’t the typical apocalypse narrative. Of course the obstacles they encounter have a significant impact on all that follows, but there’s no dark, menacing atmosphere threatening to destroy them at every turn. They’re surrounded by life and generally thrive.
As a result, the focus of the film is the sisters’ relationship and the ups-and-downs they experience dealing with the loss of former necessities and ambitions. Nell is smart and industrious like her father. She worked hard in school and wanted to get into a good college. Now she uses the same problem-solving and study skills to aid their survival. Eva followed in her mother’s dancing footsteps, practicing day and night for an audition that will likely never occur. As her single goal in life is ripped from her grasp, she finds it more difficult to adjust to this world devoid of music. The narrative skips ahead several months at a time, stopping to present some important moment in their lives. In this way, it’s much like recalling memories in which time blends together but specific incidents stick out. The pace is relatively slow and excitement generally consists of newly discovered food, so there is little escape from the sibling drama that dominates the script.
Page’s and Wood’s characters are complete opposites in appearance and personality. The two actors appear to fit rather comfortably in these girls’ skins — although it is somewhat surprising to see Page still portraying teenagers. In spite of their differences, the women display a sisterly bond that makes certain actions hurt more and eventually trumps everything when circumstances grow desperate. Rennie is everyone’s favourite dad, taking a laidback approach to parenthood but still making the tough decisions when necessary. Fellow Canadian Michael Eklund also makes a brief appearance as a shady store clerk, which is a temperament he’s perfected over the years.
It’s not easy creating buzz for a Canadian, female-led, female-driven movie, but Page (who is also a producer) and director Patricia Rozema have been doing their best to get this movie some attention — as evidenced by @Elevation_Pics photo record of them doing the rounds with various media outlets to promote the film.
Director: Patricia Rozema
Starring: Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood and Callum Keith Rennie
More about Into the Forest, ellen page, Evan Rachel Wood, Callum Keith Rennie, Michael Eklund
 
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