'All the Time in the World': Film Review

ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD still 1 - H 2016
Courtesy of Suzanne Crocker/Drift Productions
A beautiful opportunity to go off-the-grid vicariously.

A family of five cuts itself off from the world for nine months.

A family exiles itself cheerfully in All the Time in the World, Suzanne Crocker's account of the nine-month period she spent with her husband and three young children living in the remote woods of the Yukon. Parents will likely swoon at this idyllic picture of cooperation and self-entertainment, as to a lesser extent will any viewer harboring off-the-grid dreams. Often transporting and never excessively precious, the back-to-nature doc could become a cult success as it makes a tour of one-off bookings starting this weekend in Los Angeles.

Giving us no information about who the protagonists are and only the quickest explanation of the trip's origins (the family wanted to "free ourselves from the structures of time"), the pic starts with the family packing provisions into a truck and moving them by motorboat and canoe to the remote "bush" cabin they've borrowed from a friend.

It would be nice to know how much experience Crocker and husband Gerard had with roughing it, as from the very first days they're pulling off impressive feats: building a shack on stories-high stilts, for instance, where they'll keep their pantry safe from bears. Three kids aged 4, 8 and 10 make themselves useful, but it's Dad, scaling tall pines and not worrying much about his own safety, who appears to be MVP.

All five family members contribute to the movie-long voiceover, speaking from the present about their time in the woods, and near the start Suzanne worries "darn — are we really just changing one set of distractions for another?" Living like frontier folk, spending close to half the day just preparing food, it's a reasonable concern. But as routines are established, the film presents this time as more pleasure than chore: We sink into their slowed-down pace and revel in the sounds of a lapping river, wind in trees, the owl who lives nearby.

"We were never bored," Kate claims as we watch montages of homemade toys and games, see the Mayan-hieroglyphics comic book Sam wrote, listen to the silly made-up songs they sang. All this improvised fun is delightful (DIY Halloween and Christmas festivities especially), but did five people really live in an 18'-by-18' cabin without ever getting grumpy with each other? We don't see a single scene of conflict; though we may be prepared to believe such tranquility is possible, the film's refusal even to mention the topic raises doubts.

Still, it's clear that everyone involved was pleased overall by this hiatus from the plugged-in life, and a bittersweet atmosphere hangs over scenes in which, after winter ends and the river becomes passable, it's time to pack out the gear and get back to civilization. What are the odds that nobody got irritable after alarm clocks and cell phones reentered the domestic equation?

Distributor: Ryan Bruce Levey Film Distribution
Production company: Drift Productions
Director-producer-director of photography: Suzanne Crocker
Editor: Michael Parfit
Composers: Alex Houghton, Anne Louise Genest, Cameron Daye

Not rated, 86 minutes