While noting that this movie has been rightly compared, in concept, to The Searchers (1956), here it's the frozen landscape, instead of the arid hot badlands of John Ford's classic, that forms the forbidding setting.
For much of the 94 minutes of viewing time, we are on, or running with, dog sleds across the frozen tundra: three Inuit men have kidnapped the wife and daughter of an Inuit man; they also killed the grandmother. Together with his son, the two set of in a quest to rescue the women and render swift justice to the miscreants.
The vista passing, and on the horizon, is almost hypnotic. But, there's no sleeping on this journey. Just relentless silence mostly, and punctuated only by the imperative calls of "Hey! Hey!" to keep the dogs moving; and with harsh cloudy breathing as the men work furiously to catch the murderers. Occasionally, they stop to feed the dogs and themselves with frozen meat.
Suspense quickly builds as they find the murderers' tracks as next day dawns. Hours later, the searchers stop while the father creeps to the top of a small hill to search with his telescope. He sees evidence of the bad guys and speeds up the pace. We later see, from the murderers' perspective, that they are now aware they are being followed. So, the gang leader sets up a trap....
The suspense now racks up even more, as you might expect, while the two good guys approach. So now, I must leave it up to you to see the brutal end, and who survives.
Apart from the opening act in the family's igloo, with the three bad guys as guests, the story moves quickly, literally and figuratively. There's nothing false about the setting, the people and the culture, all of which provides an almost semi-documentary aspect to this tale. Indeed, it was knowing the setting which attracted me most, going in: how difficult is it to make a dramatic movie in such frigid conditions, I wondered? I wasn't disappointed.
Highly recommended. Nine out of ten.
August 18, 2019
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