After an auspicious debut with The Warrior, writer-director Asif Kapadia went to Hollywood with disastrous results in the form of super-lame Sarah Michelle Gellar horror flick The Return. Adapted from the short story True North by Sara Maitland, Far North returns Kapadia to form with a slow-burning evocation of lives lived against the odds on the freezing wastelands of the inhospitable Arctic Tundra.
Cursed from birth by a shaman, Savia (Michelle Yeoh) and her adoptive daughter Anja (Michelle Krusiec) nurse frozen soldier Yoki (Sean Bean) back to health, only to trigger a shockingly violent finale which is grimly foreshadowed by the ruthless way that Savia murders her own dog in the opening scenes.
Reworking themes from classic Japanese horror Onibaba and Don Seigel’s overlooked 1971 civil war mystery The Beguiled, Far North is a dark, macabre tale, made palatable by the stunning photography of icy wastelands and crowded campfires by Roman Osin and heightened by a creepy score by Dario Marianelli.
Kapadia has fashioned a spartan but carefully wrought character-piece with minimalist performances which belie the curse of international casting; Yeoh is much better than her martial arts/Bond girl pedigree might suggest, and even Bean is surprisingly convincing.
GFT, Glasgow from Sun 4 Jan–Tue 6 Jan; Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 9–Thu 15 Jan.