out of Five
Running time: 89
Impressively directed, beautifully shot and superbly acted, this is a haunting drama that will really get under your skin.
What's it all about?
Based on a short story by Sara Maitland, Far North stars Michelle Yeoh and Michelle Krusiec as Saiva and Anja, two women struggling to survive in the Arctic tundra after fleeing hostile soldiers. When a wounded stranger (Sean Bean) appears on the ice, Saiva and Anja nurse him back to health, but his presence severely disturbs the relationship between the two women.
Meanwhile, flashbacks reveal the horrific events that forced Saiva into her solitary northern existence, including how she rescued Anja when she was just a baby, as well as the resourceful way in which she eluded her would-be captors.
Michelle Yeoh is terrific as Saiva, delivering an intense, powerful performance that is utterly absorbing. Bean is equally good, treading a careful balance as a man capable of both extreme violence and genuine tenderness.
The script (by Kapadia and Tim Miller) uses minimal dialogue throughout, generating an extraordinarily tense atmosphere in which every gesture takes on a huge significance. In addition, Kapadia makes superb use of his starkly beautiful frozen landscapes, to the point where you can actually feel a chill coming off the screen.
Far North is the kind of film where its impact will be severely diminished if someone tells you too much about it beforehand. Suffice it to say that it takes a genuinely unexpected turn that will leave you gasping in shock.
There are some extraordinary scenes here, particularly during the flashback sequences. The moment when you realise just what Saiva is capable of is both powerful and disturbing.
In short, Far North is an impressively directed and superbly written drama that exerts a powerful grip throughout, thanks to a superb central performance from Michelle Yeoh. Recommended.