Rèmi Chayè’s excellent Long Way North tells the story of Sasha, a young aristocrat in 1880’s St. Petersburg Russia, searching for her grandfather, who went missing on an expedition to the North Pole two years earlier. Released by Shout! Factory, this is their first foray into theatrical distribution.

To be honest, I normally don’t take to animated films. Many of the ones I’ve seen push characterization past the point of believability, going for exaggeration in place of character, or tedious vulgarity to make up for the lack of anything to say. Chayè’s film does neither of those things. His characterization is grounded and actions are believably motivated. What’s more, I enjoyed spending time with Sasha and the people she encounters on her journey. Not all characters have to be likeable, but it’s not a bad thing in a movie, either.

As much as I enjoyed the characters, I loved the lush animation in Long Way North. Chayè’s style departs from the contemporary 3d computer look and goes for an impressionistic style. Long Way North’s beautiful backgrounds appear painted, and the characters have a slightly feathered outline, which suggests the figures were hand drawn (though I’m sure they weren’t).  Frankly, given how inexpensive it is to produce 2D animation, I hope that more filmmakers craft a unique look like Chayè did in his film instead of just aping the current Disney/Pixar aesthetic.

The one knock I have against Long Way North is Sasha doesn’t grow much as a character.  The best stories feature characters that change and grow through the course of a narrative, and that isn’t the case here. Yes, she changes a little bit when she’s forced to get along without her family’s support, and she gains some new skills along the journey, but Sasha is basically the same person at the beginning of the film as she is at the end. Normally that would kill a story dead, but the plot in Long Way North is so well constructed and executed that Sasha’s lack of an arc doesn’t bother me as much. What it does it keep Long Way North from being a great animated film; instead it’s just a very good animated film.


  • 1 hr and 21 mins
  • Not Rated
  • Shout Factory, Sacrebleu Productions and Maybe Movies



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