The Way Back
Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell
An extraordinary epic produced outside of the Hollywood system, Peter Weir’s The Way Back is another impressive cinematic achievement for the chameleon-like director.
Once again feeling unlike anything the filmmaker has done before — but still maintaining his sense of humanism and visual splendor — the movie opens in the little-discussed Russian Gulag internment camps of the Second World War.
Weir follows a group of political prisoners who escape from one camp only to find themselves traversing frozen Siberian mountains and the Gobi desert to find freedom. The audience feels the physical and emotional exhaustion of the characters, and comes out the other side with a deep sense of appreciation for the survivors’ experience.
The performances are amazing from top-to-bottom, with a skeletal Ed Harris earning special notice for his weary and defeated token American, Jim Sturgess proving once again to be an amicable lead with surprising depth, and Saoirse Ronan showing the emotional gravity of an actress well beyond her years.
The movie is not an easy sell since it revolves around physical torment and anguish. However, it’s so expertly crafted that you’ll genuinely feel like you’ve shared in the extraordinary experience. Films that connect this deeply are rare and for that alone The Way Back should be applauded.