david thomson on peter weir’s “the way back”

The Way Back was declined by both the Cannes and the New York festivals of 2010. I have no wish to mock the people who made those decisions. I was on the selection committee for New York myself once, and I daresay I helped omit deserving films.

Still, the attitude of those festivals bears comment (I should add that The Way Back was accepted by Telluride, where it had its world premiere). We are at a point in our history of wondering what the movies have become and what their place is in our world. The Way Back can be called old-fashioned, not just because it is set in the 1940s, but because it draws on a humanism and a thrill at spectacle that were more common then. Have modern audiences really abandoned those things?


Another big film of 2010 was The Social Network—it will be in the Oscar running and it was a featured event at the New York Film Festival. It is fascinating, informative, and it’s surely current. But it never rises above a pitiless display of unpleasant people profiting from minor cruelties and indifference. And it’s worth saying that in the vast worldwide Facebook membership there are still faces struggling for survival like those in The Way Back. This may be an era when the movies have to decide whether their subject is self-loathing or human aspiration.

[the new republic via movie city news]


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