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ALPHA

SYNOPSIS:
In the prehistoric past, a young man struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe during a buffalo hunt. He finds a similarly lost wolf companion and starts a friendship that would change humanity.

Review by Louise Keller:
Visually stunning and surprisingly moving, this prehistoric fable is a coming of age story and tale of survival. But it is the unforgettable story of the bond between boy and wolf that steals our hearts. Set on jagged cliffs and grassy plains 20,000 years ago somewhere in Europe, director Albert Hughes has created a wonderful hyper reality in which sensational imagery of sunsets, vistas, waterfalls, gnarled trees, bison stampedes and frozen lakes form the backdrop to the tale. It's engrossing, involving and affecting.

I first saw Smit-McPhee in 2009 in John Hillcoat's devastating post apocalyptic film, The Road with Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron. But it wasn't until a year later in Let Me In, when he played a bullied young boy who befriended a young female vampire, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, that I really sat up and took notice. With his delicate yet distinctive features, beyond an appealing vulnerability that draws us to him, he displays an inner strength.

Here he plays Keda, a young boy on the brink on manhood, carrying the burden of expectations on his slight shoulders. How can he live up to the demands of his chieftain father (Johannes Haukur Johannesson) when he 'leads with his heart, not his spear'? A brutal encounter with a bison leaving Keda wounded on a ledge above a precipice is the beginning of a journey in which survival is the only option; a wounded wolf he names Alpha becomes his companion, soul-mate, protector and charge. The bonding of boy and wolf and their struggle together through the wilderness and the stars to find their way home is a rollercoaster ride of hardship, determination and loyalty.

Donít let the PG classification fool you. This is not a lighthearted childrenís film. The themes are dark and some of the sequences like the one when Keda is trapped under the ice while Alpha tries desperately to save him from above, is terrifying. Special mention to the scene stealing Alpha, whose performance is flawless.

The specially created subtitled language is as fascinating as the film itself. In many ways Alpha is an old fashioned story endowed with a dazzling new coat that glitters, shines and lures us like a magnet. A bit like the stars in the night sky.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

ALPHA (PG)
(US, 2018)

CAST: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Marcin Kowalczyk

PRODUCER: Andrew Rona

DIRECTOR: Albert Hughes

SCRIPT: Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt (story by Albert Hughes)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Martin Gschlacht

EDITOR: Sandra Granovsky

MUSIC: Joseph S. DeBeasi, Michael Stearns

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Willett

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Releasing

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 27, 2018







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