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New Release Review - LONG WAY NORTH

A teenage girl sets off on a sea-faring adventure to find her grandfather's lost ship.




Review by Joshua Mitchell (@jlfm97)

Directed by: Remi Chaye

Starring: Chloe Dunn, Vivienne Vermes, Peter Hudson, Antony Hickling, Tom Perkins



Long Way North is shorter than the average animated feature, but that doesn't stop it from feeling excruciatingly long. Parents will quickly tire of the film's predictable patterns, while children will struggle to endure the political opening 20 minutes.


Long Way North (or Tout en haut du monde) is a French/Danish animated sea-faring adventure. The 2015 feature had its festival premiere last year and opened in France in January of this year. It will hit UK cinemas in June and US theatres in October, but don't mark your calendar. While its Tom Moore-esque hand-drawn visuals may immediately interest animation connoisseurs, Long Way North is 80 minutes of hopelessly clichéd tedium, showcasing children's entertainment at its least imaginative.


Tired of her boring civilised life in 1882 Russia, 15 year-old Sasha is determined to find her grandfather's lost ship, The Daiva. Her frustration with her overly stiff parents at their peak, Sasha finally runs away from home to go on her expedition. She is reluctantly accepted onboard a ship run by two bickering brothers and their unsavoury crew, but Sasha is determined to follow in her grandfather's footsteps and explore the world.


Long Way North almost feels like two separate films. Not until almost halfway into the film does Sasha actually hop aboard a boat to begin her adventure, and when she does, nearly all the characters we met before leave the picture. The film's main antagonist is abandoned. Sasha's parents, desperate and distraught at the sudden disappearance of their daughter, are never seen again. The friendly cook that gives Sasha the courage and strength she needs to begin her journey is also dropped from the film. All the subplots established here are similarly forgotten. One could almost start Long Way North at the halfway point without missing anything of importance.

The only thing holding the two halves together is the film's bland main character, and the abundance of clichés present in each. The independent girl who wants to prove herself (to her stuffy parents, a tough boss, and a crew full of misogynistic men), hints of the popular "arranged suitor" subplot (abandoned in the film's second half), a half-dozen guitar-led montages, etc.  Long Way North is as unoriginal as any animated film on the market.


The "adventuresome" second half consists of the grumbling crew griping and arguing with each other while Sasha intercedes to save the day every time a problem arises. Rinse and repeat. Long Way North is shorter than the average animated feature, but that doesn't stop it from feeling excruciatingly long. Parents will quickly tire of the film's predictable patterns, while children will struggle to endure the political opening 20 minutes. A sensationally unsensational waste of time.

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