Congratulations, you’ve made it through 2020 and successfully arrived in 2021! As he relief washes over us all and I begin to compile my best films of 2020 list, this year wastes no time in producing its own cinematic content.
Away is an animated feature film made entirely by Latvian filmmaker Gints Zilbalodis. The film tells the story of a young boy who after parachuting onto a strange island, finds himself constantly pursued by a giant black entity wanting to consume him. Upon discovering a motorcycle and an explorer’s bag containing a map to the nearest harbour, the boy sets off on a race for his life against this mysterious creature.
Considering this 75 minute long film is all the work of a single man, Away is impressive and a true artistic achievement that filmmaker, Gints Zilbalodis, should be proud of. However, the fact this is the work of one man also has its weaknesses.
The film is essentially the story of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity with a similar tone and style to Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle. Away, similar to both of these films, features a rather basic story so that its visual beauty can take centre stage, however what fundamentally sustained audience interest for The Red Turtle and Gravity’s short runtimes, was their ability to emotionally invest viewers in the characters and thus, the narrative.
Away is a beautiful looking film, however, it lacks detail, which although I understand fits with the artists own unique style, it is nonetheless devoid of the emotion necessary to make Away feel like a satisfying feature film rather than an animated short that overstays its welcome.
Overall, Away is an achievement Gints Zilbalodis should be proud of and should be excellent show reel material to get him a Pixar short, but as a film, Away doesn’t do an awful lot to warrant its feature runtime. Lacking in the fundamental emotion required to make this the next Red Turtle, Away is a undercooked proof of concept that, hopefully, could lead to bigger and brighter things.