The Snow Walker (review)
The supremely underappreciated Barry Pepper (25th Hour) gets his Cast Away — or maybe it’s his Dances with Wolves — with this captivating Canadian film about a bush pilot and WWII veteran in the remote, arctic Northwest Territories in 1953 who crashes in the middle of cold, frozen nowhere. He’s not quite alone — his passenger, a sick Inuit woman (Annabella Piugattuk, in a lovely debut) he was ferrying to a doctor, survives as well — but he might as well be, as dismissive of her as he is. In their odyssey of survival, however, during which she teaches him to spearfish and eat gopher and hunt caribou, he of course comes to a new appreciation of her and her culture, comes to see this landscape as beautiful and less desolate than he thought. Director Charles Martin Smith — working from a story by writer Farley Mowat, who’s considered something of a Canadian national treasure — avoids descending into the overtly sentimental by not romanticizing a harsh land, and Pepper by keeping his pilot just on the other side of likeability: we want him to survive, but we can’t help but agree that he genuinely needed this awakening. Bonus material features cast and crew interviews and a making-of featurette.