Into the Forest is a post-apocalypse film with a mature, feminist vision; a strong intimate story about how well people can survive when the technology disappears.
Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood play sisters in a Patricia Rozema film based on the Jean Hegland book of the same name. The film opens in U.S. theatres today.
The juxtaposition of futuristic technology with such a remote area is where we start the story. Nell (Page) is studying for exams and Eva (Wood) is rehearsing for a dance recital. Then the power goes out.
The radio tells us of a long-range blackout on the West Coast. They go on with those tasks despite the uncertainty around them. After all, they think the power will come back on soon. After awhile, the radio signal goes out and we don't get any real information on what is happening.
Rozema noted in the Q&A after the film screening I attended that the sisters only experience nature once the power goes off. She saw the film as a meditation about trying to survive without electricity. Smartphones aren't an option; can't research topics on how to survive.
The film was shot on Vancouver Island, a setting that amplifies the rural nature of their post-apocalypse world.
Page and Wood are visual and character contrasts. Opposites in lots of ways, but sisters to the end. Callum Keith Rennie plays their father. I have been a fan of Rennie from his time in Twitch City. Page made her debut as a co-producer with this film.
The pace of the film helps convey the transference of a much different speed to the world the further they get from a world with electricity. The Max Richter score conveys intelligent emotion. Rozema pointed out she didn't want the music to lead the action.
Post-apocalypse films are usually filled with zombies and might be better filed under horror films. Into the Forest is more of a psychological examination of living in nature as the world used to be that happens to be set in a post-apocalypse setting. You don't miss the zombies.
The film is intense but not in a fake way. You almost feel voyeuristic at watching what is happening and how the sisters adjust throughout the film. A post-apocalypse world can be tedious, but Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood make us want to know how the story turns out.
I am discovering Rozema, but definitely behind the curve. We had a review for When Night Is Falling over a year ago. I've Heard the Mermaids Singing was Rozema's breakthrough film. She also interviewed 4 actresses in Women Who Act with Patricia Rozema, a documentary celebrating Canadian film and television talent. Rozema talked to Andrea Martin (honorary Canadian), Ellen Page, Tatiana Maslany, and Sandra Oh.
Into the Forest opened in Canadian theatres on June 3. The U.S. release is July 29. The film was also a part of See the North, a series of Canadian films shown in the United States.
video credit: A24