It goes off. Just like that. No explanations. No reasons given. No more electricity. No more phones or internet. And when it happens Nell (Ellen Page) is on the computer talking with her boyfriend, Eli (Max Minghella). Eva (Evan Rachel Wood), a dancer, is rehearsing for an upcoming audition. And the computer and the music goes off. The sisters are living with their father, Robert (Callum Keith Rennie), in an ultra modern house in the middle of the forest, far away from the nearest village. In that house, if you want the light on, you say ‘light’, and the light goes on. But there is none of that now. They have a car and they drive to the village to stack up on gasoline and food. From what they hear, the shut down has hit the whole North American continent. Shortly after they come back, Robert has an accident and dies. So, after the burial, they are left mostly alone. Eli, Nell’s boyfriend comes to see how they’re doing. They make love inside a tree in the forest. Soon he leaves to find a place where the power is back. It does not look as if things will come to normal anytime soon. Nell looks through books to find out which berries are safe and can be prepared for consumption. And Eva is still rehearsing her dance, even though all she has is the sound of her metronome. Nell agrees to put gasoline in the generator for one evening so Eva can rehearse to music. An intruder shows up suddenly and rapes Eva. Rozema’s choice to focus her camera on Eva’s reactions throughout the ordeal, rather than on what is done to her, completely surprised me, but was the exact thing to do. In that key moment, Evan Rachel Wood’s Eva becomes the strongest of the two sisters. In the first half of the film, Nell is the more assertive of the two sisters, giving Ellen Page the more fleshed out character. But in the second half, Evan Rachel Wood has a wider range to play. But, no matter how you look at it, both actresses are so good here that it would be impossible to choose one over the other. They have both found the perfect partner. And cinematographer Daniel Grant is not afraid to go in the forest, to show that in both light and darkness there is beauty to be found. And beauty, in a film about nature, is most important. You can tell that Patricia Rozema’s Into the forest is a deeply personal film. Its themes, the emotions portrayed are of the greatest importance, not only for Rozema but for her cast and crew as well. And they should be to the audience members.
Into the forest
Based on the novel by Jean Hegland
Evan Rachel Wood
Callum Keith Rennie