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Review: Into the Forest

June 3, 2016

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Into the Forest PosterAdapting Jean Hegland’s novel for the screen, director Patricia Rozema brings Into the Forest to screen with intimate and quietly intense style.  The Canadian filmmaker displays a sensitive and compassionate touch in her handling of even the film’s most graphic elements, crafting a stark apocalyptic drama that functions as a resonant mood piece.

After all of their internet and electricity mysteriously shuts down, and the world starts running out of resources, sisters Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) are left to fend for themselves at their father’s (Callum Keith Rennie) secluded rural property in Northern California, in the face of an impending apocalypse.

Ellen Page delivers an excellent performance here, brilliantly showing the resilience and determination of her character to make due against seemingly impossible odds, and Evan Rachel Wood provides an equally solid counterpart, bringing quiet strength to her portrayal of the more fragile sister.  The two young actresses have a very naturalistic sense of chemistry between them, helping make every plot point feel both believable and heartbreaking.

A shocking act of violence is allowed to play out in a closeup on the victim’s face, a powerful stylistic choice that offers a masterclass in restraint, and a remarkably empathetic example of how to handle sensitive subject matter.  This is the world ending with a whimper not a bang, and Into the Forest is made all the more powerful and compelling for it, a haunting survival drama that offers a restrained and grittily realistic view of potential apocalypse, and resonates long afterwards.

Into the Forest is now playing at the Varsity in Toronto, and in limited release across Canada.

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