Aubrey Ward III
I'm not telling you what to see. I'm not telling you what not to see. I'm just sharing my experience and opinion on the movie, tv show or play that I have seen. I'm merely an advisor. Ultimately, you will have to go with your own gut and decide if you'll buy the ticket or not.View all articles by Aubrey Ward III
Last weekend I rented this 2007 indie mostly because Michelle Yeoh was starring in it. I love some Michelle Yeoh. Ever since I saw her in Supercop / Police Story III I have been smitten by this beautiful actress and accomplished stuntwoman. I noticed the DVD cover with her face on it while perusing the New Release wall at my local Blockbuster and I just had to pick it up.
The first refreshing aspect of Far North is that it is not kung-fu. Usually, Ms. Yeoh is featured kicking the stuffing out of some evil thugs but not in this flick. It’s a completely normal drama though I use the term “normal” kind of loosely.
See, the plot of Far North centers on a woman named Saiva (Michelle Yeoh) who was raised in the frozen wastelands of the Arctic. The resident shaman of the village told Saiva that she was destined to bring all sorts of calamities to those who dared to love her. How’s that for a self esteem boost? I would be totally giddy to know that everyone I show affection to will be cursed to die a horrific death. Anyway, poor Saiva lives the life of a hermit until she acquires a baby girl through some unfortunate and bloody circumstances.
Saiva and her now grown daughter, Anja (Michelle Krusiec), have been living on their own for years. Saiva does not trust other people save for her child so the women are constantly on the move to avoid the presence of others. All is going according to routine until Saiva goes out hunting one day and stumbles upon a passed out gentlemen lying in the field. Frostbitten, dehydrated and starving Saiva believes the man to be a lost cause. Then he snags her leg and begs for her help.
Saiva would normally leave him to rot but she drags the man back to the family hut and nurses him back to consciousness. With Anja’s help the two women help the man named Loki (Sean Bean) to get his strength back and he, in turn, does little things in appreciation like hunting reindeer and showing them his radio.
Now picture this; two women that have been cut off from society for years are now stuck with this man, this hunky chunk of a man, in a tent. The longing for the touch of a male is so thick you could insulate the attic with it. Loki also realizes the lucky position he’s in. To be stuck in such close quarters with two beautiful women is a major fantasy amongst most men and Loki seems to be one of those men. Eventually he will choose one of the women to be his companion.
For a simplistic love triangle story that takes place in the Arctic wilderness there are a number of complicated layers to peel through. Loki comes in and almost immediately rearranges the dynamic of Saiva’s home just by being in her hut. I loved the subtlety in how the three characters show their growing affections for one another. At first the women are careful to keep their flirting on the downlow but soon both ladies start to grow tired of protecting each other’s feelings and begin to openly express their adoration for this new man. Loki seems to be a decent guy but even he can resist the temptation to be the center of everyone’s attention even if it is only from two women.
The visuals are impressive as well. There are a ton of sweeping shots of the icy and snowy landscape that show the beauty of the Arctic as well as the desolation that can come from living in such a place. The nature shots helped to fully immerse me in Saiva’s world. The Arctic served as a physical reflection of the icy despair in her heart and soul.
Michelle Yeoh fans that haven’t yet discovered Far North really need to check this out asap because this is a major departure from the roles Ms. Yeoh usually plays. Instead of portraying the grand dame or the kung-fu queen Ms. Yeoh transforms herself into a subdued, anti-social and slightly bitter woman. This is a Yeoh performance that you just gotta see.
The special features on the DVD include the trailer and a comprehensive documentary about the filming of Far North. You’ll learn all sorts of interesting facts about the production including my favorites where some of the crew had to form a perimeter around the location to keep out the polar bears and the revelation that the crew’s headquarters were based on a boat. It definitely helps to deflate the stereotype that being an actor ain’t all photo shoots and award ceremonies. There is work involved and sometimes even elements of danger. Ms. Yeoh could've been eaten by a polar bear. Yikes!
If I had to describe in one word what Far North is about I would say “survival”. All three of the main characters are just trying to survive physically and emotionally in the snowy void of the Arctic. To paraphrase “Bison” from Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, there’s no telling what people will do when they’re hungry.
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