Published Mar 26, 2009Working more so as the thoughtful, ethnographic examination of an indigenous Inuit culture that one might watch in high school sociology than anything particularly entertaining, Before Tomorrow is well filmed and occasionally interesting, but it's mostly just boring and obvious.
Film festival audiences may rave about artistic integrity and the capturing of a way of life, fearing claims of ignorance for not feeling the tribal spirit, while mainstream audiences would be better off watching whatever release involves someone doing something inappropriate with a farm animal.
Book-ended by a seemingly endless folk song that begs the question "why must we die?," pointing out some already apparent didactics, the film follows Maniq (Paul-Dylan Ivalu), his grandmother Ninioq (Madeline Ivalu) and her elder pal Kuutujuk (Mary Qulitalik) as they travel to a remote area with other members of their tribe to gather and dry meat for the winter months. Some exposition about natives who trade needles and other gadgetry for sex, care of Kukik (Tumasie Sivuarapik), provides foreshadowing on where this expedition is heading.
When Maniq, Ninioq and Kuutujuk separate from the others, Kuutujuk passes on, leaving the grandmother and grandson alone when they return to find their village ravaged by illness and death.
A naturalistic, almost documentarian approach to the material creates a sense of believability and engagement that makes identification quite easy for the first stretch of the film, however a flimsy story and clumsy progression take over in later sequences. While indeed, outsiders are very likely destroying a way of life by spreading their plagues (both literally and figuratively in the film), the application of this message adds a layer of artificiality that pulls the viewer out of the narrative.
These large structural follies, along with the inherent dryness of the material, aside, Before Tomorrow is a sincere effort initially, capturing an Inuit culture in a way that provides outsiders with insight, which is no small feat. (Alliance)