- Nikki Baughan
- 16 October 2017
Daniel Radcliffe impresses in this unflinching, true-life survival story from Greg McLean
Based on the true story of Israeli traveller Yossi Ghinsberg, who was stranded in the Bolivian Amazon for three weeks in 1981, Jungle features a gung-ho central performance from Daniel Radcliffe. Caked in mud, rake thin and dragging himself through the undergrowth, it's another in a well-chosen series of roles leading him ever further away from the Potterverse.
Ghinsberg was backpacking around the world in his early 20s when he befriended Swiss teacher Marcus Stamm (Joel Jackson) and American photographer Kevin Gale (Alex Russell); together, they embarked on an ill-fated jungle trek with guide Karl Ruprechter (Thomas Kretschmann). Despite the spirited group's initial enthusiasm, it's not long before the challenging terrain begins to take its toll and, after a series of unfortunate events, Ghinsberg finds himself lost and alone. With only the most basic of provisions, he embarks on a treacherous journey to safety.
Despite a wobbly Israeli accent, Radcliffe is strong as an affable, charming man pushed to his absolute limit, both physically and psychologically, by circumstances outside of his control. Supporting characters are less rounded, however, the film being more concerned with capturing Ghinsberg's ordeal than the impact on all the individuals affected. Indeed, as it goes on, Jungle becomes something of a Revenant-esque episodic orgy of suffering, screenwriter Justin Monjo (adapting Ghinsberg's own book) determined to hit every single life-threatening beat.
That director Greg McLean is known for genre fare such as Wolf Creek and The Belko Experiment is also evident in the film's unflinching focus on the more stomach-turning moments; a sequence involving an errant creepy crawly is one of the most grotesque of the year. Still, if Jungle plays like another slice of survival porn, it doesn't diminish the inspirational true story that lies at its heart.
Limited release from Fri 20 Oct.