Inuk: Film Review
Jean-Michel Huctin, Mike Magidson
Gaaba Petersen, Ole Jorgen Hammeken, Rebekka Jorgensen
A teenager and veteran hunter take an epic dog sled trip in this import from Greenland.
Don’t look for warmth, either emotionally or physically, in Mike Magidson’s film, which represented Greenland in the Oscar foreign film competition and has won awards at numerous festivals. This road movie, set on that country’s icy terrain is chilly in every way, but it does offer a fascinating look at a culture that is all too exotic to American audiences. A major commercial success in its native country, Inuk will find rough sledding in domestic art houses.
Beginning with a prologue in which the young titular character watches his father fall through weak ice and drown, the film cuts forward several years to when sixteen-year-old Inuk (Gaaba Petersen) is living a troubled existence with his alcoholic mother and abusive stepfather. He’s eventually rescued by a kindly social service worker (Rebekka Jorgensen) and sent to a children’s orphanage in a remote coastal town. There he meets Ikuma (Ole Jorgen Hammeken), a hunter who takes the emotionally withdrawn teenager on a dangerous dog-sled expedition across the frozen ice in an attempt to reconnect him with his ancestral heritage.
The resulting road -- or ice trip -- finds the two disparate figures frequently clashing due to the grizzled older man’s frequent drunkenness and tendency of lashing out at his young companion. But they eventually form an unlikely bond as Inuk learns to appreciate the traditions of his Inuit ancestors.
Shot in sub-zero temperatures under obviously challenging conditions, Inuk is less notable for its dramaturgy than for its beautifully photographed rendering of the harsh Arctic landscapes. Its thin storyline and characterizations, abetted by sometimes heavy-handed narration, are too simplistic to sustain interest. But the film certainly displays an undeniable verisimilitude, including the fact that its teen performers are actual residents of the Uummannaq Children’s Home, and its striking visuals are bone-chilling enough to make you feel the need to wear a parka, even if watching it in a nicely heated theater.
Production: C’est la Vie Films, Docside Production
Cast: Gaaba Petersen, Ole Jorgen Hammeken, Rebekka Jorgensen
Director: Mike Magidson
Screenwriters: Jean-Michel Huctin, Mike Magidson
Producers: Ann Andreasen, Mike Magidson, Sylvie Barbe
Executive producers: Marc Buriot, Jean-Michael Huctin, Thom Mount
Directors of photography: Xavier Liberman, Franck Rabel
Editor: Cecile Coolen
Production designers: Andrea Andreasen, Rebekka Jorgensen
Costume designer: Martha Eriksen
Composer: Stephane Lopez
Not rated, 90 min.