Review: The Way Back (2010)

Peter Weir’s latest is a long-gestating film adaptation of Slavomir Rawicz’s The Long Walk: The True Story Of A Trek To Freedom.

The film centres a Polish lieutenant (Jim Sturgess) tortured by the Russian secret police and sent to a Siberian gulag on trumped-up charges who, along with several other falsely incarcerated men, travels 4,000 by foot to freedom.

Weir’s adaptation is a captivating film, using a tale of survival to explore deep, meaningful themes of existence and morality.

The cinematic vision compliments these moral explorations, the rough terrain symbolising the harshness of human existence and the trials we must face throughout our lives.

Sturgess proves his worth as the Polish leader, while Ed Harris and Colin Farrell each provide canny turns as criminals seeking redemption and worthwhile meaning.

Saoirse Ronan, in a walk-on part as 14-year-old Polish girl , who brings out the compassionate side of each character before succumbing to the torturous landscapes.

The main downfall is the distance kept between viewer and character. We are kept at arms length throughout the film, preventing one from becoming entirely engaged and emotionally involved with the hardship unravelling on screen.

The Way Back is a riveting and visually beautiful film that makes you question your own morality, but it’s overly long running time and poor character development results in it failing to achieve it’s full potential.

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