The Way Back | Movie Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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The Way Back 

A long walk through gorgeous, if inhospitable lands, lacks heart

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It's an incredible, and reputedly true, story: During World War II, prisoners escape from a Siberian gulag and walk 4,000 miles to freedom in India. But that doesn't automatically make an inspiring film. Because we know the outcome, the execution matters. And while Peter Weir's film has some lovely scenery, it misses building emotional connections. It's a rag-tag group that escapes -- among them, a Pole (Jim Sturgess), an American (Ed Harris) and a Russian thief (Colin Farrell) -- but characterization is thin. The men -- in a variety of bad accents -- chiefly argue about food and getting lost, and their bonds seem more perfunctory than earned. To humanize them, the film adds, somewhat randomly, a teen-age girl (Saoirse Ronan). And after this long walk -- and 130 minutes -- Weir hurtles through the last paces, leaving me a bit mystified at how it all ended rather than exhilarated at the accomplishment. In English, and various languages, with subtitles. Starts Jan. 21. SouthSide Works, Waterworks

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