The Way Back
Sarah 36, Death Race 20; 16 of 24 categories completed
It's a good yarn, in theory — a bunch of guys escape from a Siberian gulag during World War II and walk all the way to India (well…some of them do) — but in the actual telling, there's a problem of modulation, or rather the lack of it. The movie opens with the privations of prison; it's freezing, there's almost no food, and the gangsters who run the place will kill each other over a sweater.
But once the escape is effected, the story is more or less a list of the subsequent privations, one as wretched and seemingly terminal as the next: freezing, starving, inadequate footwear, skunky water, sunstroke, exhaustion, madness. The pitch doesn't really vary, because it can't, and after a while, the horrors become routine. I just kind of shut down and waited to see if Ed Harris's character would die or not; it's the only thing that feels relatable after a while.
Harris is quite good, but Jim Sturgess as Janusz, the ostensible mastermind of the journey, is too bland for that role (although that could be the writing's fault). Saoirse Ronan turns in the same squinty, watery performance she always does, and their respective accents beat Ronan and Colin Farrell handily. The Way Back isn't outright boring or bad, and Peter Weir tries to nuance the shot-making, at least, but the all-big-moments nature of the story doesn't allow for much of that.
Tags: Colin Farrell Ed Harris in Soviet Russia movie watch you Jim Sturgess movies Oscars 2011 Death Race Peter Weir Saoirse Ronan The Way Back