Fans of the resilient Inuit people, who weather the elements stoically, will want to do a fast run down to Film Forum for the latest example of Canadian-shot survival cinema. Before Tomorrow is easy to admire in a Jack London way, as its leather-skinned elder (codirector Ivalu) and her spunky grandson (played by actual relative Paul-Dylan Ivalu) escape wolves and apply strips of dried whale blubber to their slow-burning fire. The two are left on their own because their tribe has come into contact with the white man’s diseases (it’s circa 1840), and everyone else has fallen to boils. They head south, much like the father-son duo in The Road; any apocalyptic overtones are completely merited.
The problem here, though, is that the movie often feels fat instead of lean. A terribly purple folk score by Kate and Anna McGarrigle hypes the spiritual aspects of the Inuit way of life; you’ll die laughing on the tundra. These kind of movies don’t require slo-mo shots of bow shooting; transitional sequences stretch on forever. Even the tales told by the grandma to impart crucial historical lessons feel a little logy. Shouldn’t it be survival of the fittest? Where’s Never Cry Wolf’s Carroll Ballard when we need him?