Home Away

Away (U)

Genre: none
Author(s): Gints Zilbalodis
Director: Gints Zilbalodis
Release Date: 28/08/2020 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 75mins
Country: Lat
Year: 2019

A boy dangles from a tree, the canopy of his parachute snagged on gnarled fingers of a sun-scorched branch. Eventually, he tumbles from the tree and runs into a cave to escape a shape-shifting colossus with glowing white eyes. This behemoth relentlessly pursues the child after he stumbles upon a rucksack and motorcycle and follows a route marked on a map, that seemingly leads back to humanity on the eastern side of the island.


 

LondonNet Film Review
Away (U)

More than three years in the making, Away is a mesmerising computer-animated odyssey, which disproves the notion that film is a collaborative experience fuelled by the imaginations and toil of hundreds of creative minds. Latvian animator Gints Zilbalodis directed, wrote, edited, produced and composed the score for his impressive debut feature – a dialogue-free labour of love that nods affectionately to puzzle-solving video games including the PlayStation adventures Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus….

From the tantalising opening image of a boy dangling from a tree, the canopy of his parachute snagged on gnarled fingers of a sun-scorched branch, we are spellbound passengers on a fantastical journey along the spine of an unnamed island. Working alone, Zilbalodis makes some bold artistic choices to realise his haunting vision within a tight time frame. Animation on the central character’s face is predominantly restricted to altering the shape and size of brown eyes, which peer out beneath a jumble of hair that resembles a mound of dark chocolate-coloured cheese puffs.

Viewed from a distance, backgrounds are richly detailed, moving seamlessly from vast desertscapes and swaying forests of trees to treacherously steep, snow-laden mountains. Ambient sounds (chirruping birds, cascading waves, the crunch of sand beneath walking feet, a motorcycle engine coughing and spluttering to life) ebb and flow with Zilbalodis’ evocative soundtrack, which draws inspiration from Max Richter and Sigur Ros.

Bookmarked into four self-explanatory chapters – Forbidden Oasis, Mirror Lake, Dream Well and Cloud Harbor – the story begins with the boy tumbling from the tree and running into a cave to escape a shape-shifting giant with glowing white eyes. This behemoth relentlessly pursues the child after he stumbles upon a rucksack and motorcycle and follows a trail marked on a map that seemingly leads back to humanity on the eastern side of the island. On route, a hungry yellow chick becomes the boy’s attentive travelling companion, staring intently back at the colossus chasing them as they pass beneath a series of primitive stone archways that neatly mark the path to salvation.

Away is a wildly ambitious trek through a dreamlike world not far removed from Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away), where a hungry llama grazes in a field of swaying daisies and wide-eyed cats congregate around a geyser sinkhole waiting for a thunderous gush of refreshment. In the space of 75 minutes, Zilbalodis subjects his young hero to various weather systems and orchestrates some impressively elaborate sequences including a vertiginous walk along a rotting wooden bridge and a hair-raising mountain descent in the shadow of an avalanche. On every technical level, it’s a mightily impressive achievement.

– Jo Planter


London Cinemas Showing Away


From: Friday 18th September
To: Thursday 24th September

From: Friday 25th September
To: Thursday 1st October

UK and Irish Cinemas Showing Away


From: Friday 18th September
To: Thursday 24th September

Brewery Arts Centre

Sat 15:15; Sun 13:20; Wed 15:45

Kino Rye

Fri-Sun 12:30; Mon/Tue 13:30; Thu 12:45

Scott Cinemas

Tue-Thu 15:25

Watershed

Thu 15:00 15:20

From: Friday 25th September
To: Thursday 1st October

Scott Cinemas

Fri/Mon-Thu 16:50; Sat/Sun 13:15

Scott Cinemas Bristol, Westbury Park

Fri 17:10; Sat/Sun 13:25; Mon/Thu 16:40; Tue 16:50; Wed 17:20