Into The Forest stars Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood as two sisters learning to survive when a massive, nation wide power outage occurs. They live with their father in the middle of the sticks while he works on their new home which is elsewhere. Their current home is nice and sprawling with plenty of space for each of these characters to develop as people. The power outage changes that. Shot entirely on location in British Colombia, director Patricia Rozema makes good use of the lush greenery and old country architectures to create a world not that far from the regular towns. This is a good backdrop to a rather somber, but very moving and effective film.
Ellen Page is Nell. She is a bookworm, studying for tests she taking in the next few weeks. Evan Rachel Wood is Eve, who is more of an arts kind of girl who studies ballet and is trying to be accepted to a group, but an injury to her ankle is hampering that. When the power goes out, Nell and Eve are forced to change their lives, just to survive in a world that now sees the worst coming out of people. Held up on their isolated home, the girls and their father (Callum Rennie) try to make the most of a horrible situation. Nell, however, has just met a nice young man, Eli (Max Minghella) and they become quite close. But then the power goes out, does Eli remain the same nice guy he was before or does he change like everybody else?
Let me be clear about Into The Forest. This is billed as a Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic, Drama. There is nothing that is Sci-Fi about it and not much to suggest this is the Apocalypse, per say. What the film is really about is these sisters and the important bond of siblings and family when the world is on its heels. Therein is the drama, which is what propels Into The Forest. Page and Wood are stellar as Nell and Eve. They are two girls that could not be more different, but when it is all said and done, all they have is each other and what they can hold onto. They are both smart, resourceful and have kind hearts, even though they have some real stark disagreements. I loved and believed their interaction and was totally invested in their characters. Nothing is overdone or oversold, the acting is superb and the film has a powerful pro-life message that was surprisingly handled with tenderness and care. Not something you see coming out of Hollywood much at all, these days.
Director Rozema who cowrote the script with Jean Hegland (based on Hegland’s novel of the same name) is deftly written with intelligence and is a fascinating character study of Nell and Eve. These are not weak women. They are strong and resilient; determined to survive, no matter what. That does not mean they don’t have their moments of heartbreak and when that happens, it broke my heart as well. Max Richter’s score is gorgeous and seems right at home in the lush greenery of Canada. If I had any complaints about Into The Forest is the lack of an ending that seems too open ended. It really does not tie anything up at all. I guess the message is that there is no replacement for blood and family bonds. On that level, Into The Forest soars.
Into The Forest- **** out of 5
Into The Forest- Rated R for Violence, strong sexual content, nudity, language and adult situations
Into The Forest- Run Time is 101 minutes
Into The Forest is playing in select cities and On Demand. Check you local listings for times and locations.