Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1997. . Screenplay by . Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by . Toronto International Film Festival 1997.
Anthony Hopkins plays a shy billionaire who accompanies his hot young model wife (Elle MacPherson) to her photoshoot in Alaska. They stay in a remote cabin in the snowy wilds of the northern state where her hotshot photographer (Alec Baldwin) tries to achieve the perfect look for his ideal fashion spread, and between bouts of enjoying indulging in his childhood fantasies of roughing it in the wilderness, Hopkins starts to fear the connection between artist and muse. When Baldwin is convinced that there is a fisherman who will provide the iconic element that their photo spread is missing, he sets out on a tiny plane with Hopkins and colleague Harold Perrineau in tow, traveling even further than they have already gone into the barren Alaskan landscape with disastrous results: their plane crashes, the pilot dies and now they must survive a harsh climate and setting that is not made friendlier by the appearance of a very hungry Kodiak bear (played by the late, great Bart). As they try to figure their way out of very difficult, increasingly dangerous circumstance, Baldwin and Hopkins also must come to terms with the tension between them that they can no longer ignore, and since the script is by David Mamet, this means a lot of trying to negotiate the divide between primal masculine urges and evolved intellectual goals while marching through snowbanks and narrowly escaping being eaten by wild animals. Gorgeous scenery and sterling performances in the leads provide a great deal of dramatic strength to a movie that is clearly the result of a tug of war between artists and executives, you can feel studio bosses letting Mamet’s wordy, theme-laden screenplay have its way before insisting on action setpieces that will help sell it to the lowest common denominator. As a result, the film is a muddled middle-ground between studio pablum and something more ambitious, but it’s not boring and its most symbolic gestures never come across as trite.