Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Map of the Human Heart" (1993) - Movie Review

What can be made of “Map of the Human Heart” is good thing to ponder all through this review. There would be no argument in the area of its photography which captures fire and darkness with the shadows of the men ready to be plunged into the river of fury during a War sequence is one such example. It has very immense period to watch for in its characters. Each has a point of their real colours, their love and their humanity extending as much as the heart allows to override their normal feelings. But in the end it becomes what Tarsem Singh’s recent “The Fall” went through, it does not cut deep enough.

Directed by Vincent Ward who later went on to give another visually inventive “What Dreams May Come”, seems to be a passionate man of long lasting love, heaven, hell and sacrifice. Here he goes into one of the coldest part of the world, Arctic. An old run down native man of the place is Avik (Jason Scott Lee) begins to forcefully narrate his tale of love to the map maker (John Cussack in a very brief role). Growing as a kid , Avik (Robert Joamie) suffers from tuberculosis when a cartographer Walter (Patrick Bergin) rescues him. He drops him off at a hospital where he would find his love. It is a rather rebellious and strong voiced Albertine (Anne Galipeau). She is as she calls herself is half breed native American as Avik who is half Inuit. As always in romance films, fate separates them.

Years pass and young Avik is now Jason Scott Lee and he is again visited by Walter. Avik does not grasp that the world is in war. See it is World War-II in the rest of the world while a living in the cold Arctic is a war by itself for Avik. Avik hears the voice of that song which connects every lover over the radio and gives the X-ray of Albertine he acquired during their lovely days in the hospital to Walter. He asks to deliver that to Albertine and when the story turns, we would see events turn strange. The grown up Albertine (Anne Parillaud) will indeed meet Avik when he is serving in the Bomber air force. But she will be with some one.

Movies like this breaks the traditional story telling, especially the way romance is being told. Broken hearts and unresolved relationships are same fables because humans are bound to be in similar pattern when it comes to leaving each other. Either by themselves or by external forces as we can blame it. Here the love springs from the early years and for once there is a force which connects them in their first meet. Their heritage and them being in between two race and not complete of either. That brings them together and that follows them as adults too. But Albertine wants a life free from being looked different and live a rich life style. Yet the strings of the true love takes her back to Avik.

Avik lives in a middle world in his mind. He learns English but truly belongs to his culture in the Arctic. He begins to view him as a bad omen bringing death to his nearby people. That of course would lead him to isolate himself and roam as a mad man being driven off by the people. Yes it beckons sympathy but fortunately Ward does not make it a focus even though he makes it a sappy ending which cheats the integrity he maintained throughout in a film which for half its part less interesting.

Some times I question whether my taste for time consuming love stories are becoming sour. If that is the case, I would have not liked both “Forrest Gump” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. True that both are not entirely a story of romance but that is how life is. It is not filled only with love but events of boring, devastating, sorrowful nature to protect the love which is the precious thing to have in life.

“Map of the Human Heart” is a film to watch for its cinematography and locations. It has unusual area handled in films along with characters never been touched. It has the love story which we have seen but a flavour which we have not. Yet it fails in interesting us completely while occasionally springing to give an insight in to the characters. Especially when Walter the unexpected rival for Avik explaining his cold heart vengeance without any mercy as his jealousy and broken heart would make him do. That is the scene which should have been in between those spectacular visuals.

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