By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
I originally wrote this introduction assuming that Tom Gilroy was related to the 50-odd other Hollywood Gilroys currently making the Bourne franchise their personal fiefdom, but I was wrong. Here’s a picture of a silly raccoon to make up for it.
You silly, raccoon. You silly.
Anyway, The Cold Lands is about a 12 year old boy (Silas Yelich) who is forced by tragedy to strike out on his own, and who eventually finds an unlikely companionship in a free-spirited drifter (Peter Scanavino).
Gilroy has crafted a remarkably assured film in his second directorial effort, first and foremost establishing an organic sense of place that many directors with ten times his experience can’t pull off. In some ways his melding of environment and story remind me of a nascent Terence Malick or David Gordon Green-type talent, and it will be exciting to see where he goes from here.
Hopefully more that first direction.
DP Wyatt Garfield’s sumptuous natural cinematography and painterly frame obviously plays a big part in that as well, as does Hahn Rowe’s spare but affecting score. The story is similarly spare, with a contemplative pace engineered to provoke consideration of character actions and decisions, and the cast does a good job of conveying reserved emotion and moral indecision to that end. Scanavino in particular is a charismatic, engaging presence as a good-hearted but unquestionably directionless screw up who is starting to realize the encroaching need for more responsibility in his life.
While on one hand the refusal to spoon feed the audience is commendable, it would have been nice to at least have some utensils to eat with.
No sporks. Fuck sporks.
Okay, that’s exaggerating things a bit, but our understanding of a lot of character decisions could have benefited more from a little more support. Why is the kid so distrustful of authority figures- enough to risk the uncertainties of woods and road over taking their help? Why does Scanavino accept responsibility for this kid so easily, when obviously there’s way more downside than upside in taking care of him? It’s enough to wonder if a lot of the plot is driven by aimlessness for aimlessness’s sake.
The Cold Lands is a somewhat opaque, but beautifully rendered tale of one boy finding his own way in the world.
Take a Drink: for every philosophical quandary
Take a Drink: for salvage
Take a Drink: for modern technology meeting rustic lifestyles
Take a Drink: KKKlearly that’s a poor fashion choice
Do a Shot: for Elvis theories
Last Call: Stick around to find out what that title is all about.