'Society of the Snow' review: JA Bayona's Netflix film makes Andean survival story 'alive' again

Courtesy Netflix

“Snow Society” tells the story of a 1972 plane crash in the Andes.


It's been more than 30 years since “Alive,” the film based on the man's true story Uruguay rugby team Its voyage crashed in the Andes in 1972, forcing the survivors to resort to cannibalism. Now, “Society of the Snow” retells that tale under the direction of Spanish director J.A. Bayona, in a Spanish-language production that depicts the harrowing ordeal without adding much that is new or special to the picture.

Indeed, while the densely-narrated film seeks to present everything that happened in the most visceral way, the film ultimately feels like a slightly drawn-out version of its 1993 predecessor, joining it under the rubric of 'movies you'll probably never see on screen'. airplane.”

“Society of the Snow,” named an Oscar contender in Spain for World Film, is coming to Netflix (after a mandatory theatrical hiatus), where viewers can enjoy what is by turns an exhausting story of loss and death and a moving display of determination and indomitable humanity. The soul is under circumstances in which despair seems like a perfectly reasonable response.

Bayona (who shares the script with three others, and it is adapted from a book by Pablo Versi) doesn't fully flesh out the characters despite spending extra time with them before the iconic moment when the plane crashes into the mountains, which is executed in gruesome detail.

Facing the freezing elements, food shortages, and soon realizing that rescue may not be forthcoming anytime soon, conversations turn to the question of what they must do to support themselves, and the ethics of eating those who have died.

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Courtesy Netflix

Enzo Vugrincic (prologue) in “Snow Society”.

While the previous film showcased some of its then-young stars — Ethan Hawke and Josh Lucas among them — “Society of the Snow” plays like an ensemble piece, with a cast who endured their own challenges during the film’s on-location production, including Enzo Vugrincic, Matthias Reckalt, Agustín Bardella, Esteban Kokoretska, Thomas Wolff, Diego Vegesi, and Esteban Bigliardi. Bayona wisely drops in flashbacks that serve more as fleeting glimpses of memories passing through their minds than as ways to deepen our understanding of individual players.

Having left a mark in the United States with films such as “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” And another disastrous epic titled The Impossible, Bayona attacks the material with stark efficiency, including the most gruesome details, that suit the task at hand without making it a cakewalk to watch.

Both in terms of its cultural specificity and the passage of time, “Snow Society” offers a trustworthy look at a remarkable story – enhanced by Michael Giacchino's exuberant score – while being somewhat hampered by the limitations of the way the events unfolded.

As serious as this new production is, whether or not it's enough to justify watching it once, let alone sitting in a duplicate for those who have seen “Alive,” it honestly feels like a very tall mountain to climb.

“Society of the Snow” premieres January 4 on Netflix. It is rated R.

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