Filmed in the vast forests of British Columbia, Into The Forest is a sleepy little end of times drama that focuses on the methods of survival and the bond between two sisters. Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page’s chemistry is something that works well for the film, just don’t expect anything huge from the pretty uneventful semi futuristic film, unless you like a lot of slow moving shots of trees and foliage.
Coming from former Cannes award winning Canadian director Patricia Rozema, the film is a moody adaptation of the 1996 Jean Hegland novel of the same name, a popular book at it’s time of release. Unfortunately, Rozema’s scripting of the story feels a bit vague, never making anything clear to the viewer when it comes to what exactly the outside world is dealing with at this time. Why has society collapsed in this film? We will never know.
The story follows sisters Nell (Page) and Eva (Wood) who are staying at their remote country cottage with their father Robert, played by the busiest Canadian actor alive, Callum Keith Rennie. Both sisters are completely driven in their respective endeavors, Nell pushing for the top mark on her SATs while Eva is struggling to return to competing form in dance after suffering a catastrophic knee injury.
Everything changes for the small family when the power goes out one night. Robert decides to gather the girls and head into town to see what the situation is and to grab whatever supplies are available. It becomes evident quickly that these as well as gas are going to be very hard to come by. After some seriously awkward and hostile encounters, they head back to their cottage to wait out the power outage.
The most frustrating thing about this film is how nondescript everything is in this film. It never allows for any exposition except what is immediately on the surface. However well Page and Wood play off each other is immediately lost in the simplicity of the script and story. Neither of these women are able to expand to anything we haven’t seen from them before: a really wasted story with a lot of potential.
The film also features little bit parts from The Social Network actor Max Minghella and Canadian Michael Eklund but Minghella is very bland, adding nothing to the story and Eklund gets thrust into his usual unsettling creepy guy. Aside from Rennie, no male cast member has anything of worth to talk about.
The nail in this films coffin is it’s inability to give anything a thorough focus. Even the girls methods of foraging for food or attention to survivalism feels fleeting, as if it was only a crammed together montage, pretty much the bare minimum. For an almost two hour film, you would expect something in the storytelling to be solid but you leave the film just as cold as you went in.
It’s disappointing for me to see the potential of this adaptation and cast be utterly wasted to make a sporadically plotted and dull piece punctuated by our B.C. trees. The story and cast was let down by a director who wanted to make an annoyingly ambiguous end times art film. Into the Forest is a one and a half out of five.