|Long Way North (2016)|
Directed by Rémi Chayé.
Voice Cast: Christa Théret, Féodor Atkine, Thomas Sagols, Remi Caillebot, Audrey Sablé, Fabien Briche, Remi Bichet, Julienne Degenne.
2016 81 minutes
Rated: (for some peril and mild language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for TheFilmFile.com, January 12, 2016.
"Long Way North" is elegant and inspiring, a French-Danish animated adventure with a compelling story and a progressive dose of female empowerment rooted deep in its bones. The heroine of the piece is 15-year-old Sacha (voice of Christa Théret), suffocated by her parents' status-obsessed aristocracy in 1882 Saint Petersburg. The Arctic search for her missing explorer grandfather, Oloukine (Féodor Atkine), has been called off, but, when Sacha stumbles upon coordinates that may be the answer to his ship's whereabouts, she becomes determined to find itand him. Her trek reaching this destination is far from a straight line, and oft perilous, testing her courage and determination as she grows from child to adult.
"Long Way North" looks and feels like a passion project, director Rémi Chayé, screenwriters Claire Paoletti and Patricia Valeix, and all the film's artists bringing love and care to every frame of the gloriously drawn, computer-assisted animation. A touch quieter and more introspective than most American-made, studio-produced animated movies, the film should engage all viewers without it ever feeling as if it's targeting a specific demographic. It's also not nearly as predictable, leading Sacha toward a key unexpected discovery and a deeper connection to her lost grandfather. "Long Way North" is ultimately hopeful even as it fully acknowledges life's fallibility, a hopeful fable that sees a future for its teenage protagonist as limitless as her aspirations will take her.