Before Tomorrow Marie-Helene Cousineau & Madeline Ivalu

Before Tomorrow Marie-Helene Cousineau & Madeline Ivalu
Approximately 45minutes of the 90-minute running time in Before Tomorrow is spent in a cave with a grandmother and grandson as they sew, braid hair, play with fire and stare at the wall. Occasionally, the grandmother will remark on how the youngster is becoming a man, but mostly they just sit there. There is a random wolf attack in the middle of this, which helps add some peril to the pain of dying alone, but it merely marks an awkward transition between hope and defeat. Book-ended by a seemingly endless folk song that begs the question: "why must we die?," which points out some already apparent lessons, along with the insight that humans are made of meat and blood, the third film in the award-winning Nunavut trilogy (including The Fast Runner and The Journals of Knud Rasmussen) follows young Maniq (Paul-Dylan Ivalu) and his grandmother Ninioq (Madeline Ivalu). Along with their elder pal Kuutujuk (Mary Qulitalik), 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 weak story and clumsy progression take over in latter sequences. We want to identify with Maniq and Ninioq throughout their journey but flimsy performances and a lack of direction hinder us. Indeed, if we look past the dryness and clumsiness of the material, Before Tomorrow proves an initially sincere effort, capturing Inuit culture in a way that provides outsiders with some insight but little more. Included with the DVD is a ten-minute "Making of" supplement, which is mostly interviews with the crew. (Alliance)