A review of “The Snow Walker” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: ***

Rating: PG for disturbing images

Run Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes



Charles Martin Smith has crafted a lovely, old school adventure whose simple themes resonate with a refreshing honesty.  Walker is based on Farley Mowat’s short story “Walk Well My Brother” and infused with his unadulterated vision of Canada’s far North.

Barry Pepper’s chiseled cheekbones are on prominent display as cocky fly-boy Charlie Halliday, who makes illicit sidetrips in the Northern territories running cargo and collecting ivory and furs. Charlie finds himself in a heap o’trouble when he stumbles across a sick Inuit girl (Annabella Piugattuk as Kanaalaq) and agrees to transport her to a Yellowknife hospital.

The plane crash-lands in the Arctic wilderness and a panicked Charlie foolishly leaves the plane, and the girl, behind to trek two hundred miles to the nearest town. Naturally he succumbs to the elements and collapses in a feverish heap before Kanaaluq comes to his rescue. 

Charlie and Kanaalaq bridge their vast cultural chasm with small words and large deeds. A skilled huntress and seamstress, Kanaalaq keeps the duo alive but struggles with the onset of her tuberculosis as the pair moves slowly but relentlessly towards freedom.

The film telegraphs its narrative but is nonetheless dramatically effective.  The Canadian North is visually magnificent, lingering on the majesty of vast snowy plains and glittering watery inlets. A few saccharine moments detract only slightly from the fight for survival and the spare human touches of love and respect.