Mark Reviews Movies

ATANARJUAT (THE FAST RUNNER)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Zacharias Kunuk

Cast: Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Pakkak Innushuk, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Lucy Tulugarjuk, 

MPAA Rating: R (for some sexuality/nudity and violence)

Running Time: 2:52

Release Date: 6/7/02


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Capsule review by Mark Dujsik

Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) is the first Inuit movie, and that piece of trivia will probably be all that the movie is remembered for in years to come. Yes, itís great that we have a new voice, perspective, and culture in cinema, but that shouldnít overshadow the fact that the movie in question is quite dull. Itís expertly shot on digital video by cinematographer Norman Cohn (who also shares a few other technical credits), and the images of vast, sweeping, snow-covered flatland are beautiful. On other levels, though, the movie drags. The story is based on millennium-old folklore, but the screenplay so severely diminishes the fantastic and human elements of the story that it sometimes borders on unintelligible nonsense. The acting is naturalóso natural that even in the native language you can tell itís all reading, not interpretation. It moves at a snailís pace, which is fine near the beginning as we begin to learn about the culture, but that tempo continues even as events become more dire and urgent. When Zacharias Kunukís directorial debut is at its best, itís amateurishly pureódevoid of unnecessary frills and driven by joyful naivetť. At three hours and with very little story or character development, there is plenty of room for editing, and a much shorter cut surely would have resulted in a smoother, more focused narrative without sacrificing any of the cultural intrigue. Thereís a nice moral at the end, but it seems forced upon its characters. They probably donít even notice.

Copyright © 2003 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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