“It’s daylight all the time. It’s an endless day.”
The idea of fleeing a buzzing city lifestyle seems endlessly appealing to many of us. However, this escape is usually portrayed as something viscerally inescapable. Calculated. Cathartic. Journey To Greenland, on the other hand, takes us on a shaky trip deep into the mountains – to admire the snow.
Sébastien Betbeder’s [2 Autumns, 3 Winters] 2016 French comedy-drama lures two best friends, Thomas #1 (Thomas Blanchard) and Thomas #2 (Thomas Scimeca), away from Paris to the stillness of Kullorsuaq, a remote village in Greenland. The aim of the helicopter-rattling journey is to visit Thomas’ father, who had migrated there decades before. As the two friends face many sunlit nights, a paralysing language barrier and bloody seal-hunting, their internal struggles emerge.
The story is drenched in humour – one born of an intimate friendship and comical circumstances. As the days bleed into the nights, we are presented with the oddity of calmness. The scenic shots, frozen on the cotton-white mountains for minutes at a time, force us to adjust our heart rates. That’s because the film keeps a tight leash on its pace. We keep waiting for shocking twists that, essentially, never come. This births an organic appreciation of time – even if finally being able to connect to the internet is the highlight of the day.
While maintaining its breezy and witty comedy, the story scrapes against a few cumbersome icebergs. Our inability to be fully transparent and honest with ourselves – let alone our loved ones – leads to a few scratches and hisses. Overcomplicated romances and co-dependent friendships lose their footing on the slippery planes of Kullorsuaq. It’s where the local Inuit community inhales our two protagonists, gifting them with deeply haunting – but warm – memories.
In the end, however, it’s hard to determine whether skipping the climax was intentional, or if the plot was never burly enough to carry the load of the audience’s expectations.