Before Tomorrow is the conclusion of a trilogy of films about the Inuit people being shot in Canada. The first being Fast Runner, which I saw and loved, and The Diary of Knud Rasmussen, which somehow was missed. It is a thematic trilogy, and not a sequential trilogy, following more in the European tradition where it’s variations on a theme and not necessary a contiguous storyline.
The film is both sparse in dialogue and replete with visual wonders. It might seem like a simple task to go up north near the Arctic Circle and get wondrous images and let the vistas do the work but there are frames, compositions and exposures that truly make these shots what they are. The edit also plays into the visual beauty of this film. There are at least three dissolves which are executed with such grace and beauty on both ends it brought to mind a quote by Truffaut where he says “So few directors can gracefully dissolve one shot into another.” This most certainly is not the case here.
There are also two different kinds of shooting here. There are more narrative-based landscape shots as the story gets more and more focused on the Grandmother (Madeline Ivalu) and her grandson (Paul-Dylan Ivalu), yet at the beginning there is quite a bit of handheld documentary-style shooting which is very well-done.
What you get in this film and its predecessors is truly a modern interpretation of Neo-Realism. Non-professional but engaging actors playing parts they understand in minimalist storylines. To relate the entirety of the tale would be entirely too easy within this space and would leave you with no surprises. There are surprises to be had and there are many emotions to be experienced within.
What will be said can be true of all simplistic storytelling, it’s the execution that elevates it, and that’s definitely the case here, yet as stripped-down as the on-screen action is there manage to be stories within the story. The film examines the oral traditions of the tribe and there are frequently stories being asked for and told that either inform or contrast the action we have been witness to.
The film ends as a close to the trilogy because after the tale of this particular installment is told then there is a slow-motion montage of the tribe living. Barring seeing the middle installment this could very well be the most overlooked, under-appreciated and impressive trilogies of the decade.
This is a film that will not cut quickly, that will take its time to develop. Allow it to. There is more than one way to make a film and to make a hyper-kinetic film with a people who are concerned with months and seasons and not so much with minutes and hours would seem wrong.
What you find here is a tidy, simple tale which is well told and as the best cinema does it shows you a world you would otherwise have no access to. It’s a tender and tenderly told tale which has humor, humanity and surprises. It’s a film that truly transports and even only having seen the bookends this was the perfect capper to the trilogy.