Film Reviews

Personal Journey

With The Journey of August King, John Duigan (The Year My Voice Broke, Sirens) has done a masterful job of bringing the audience to another time, and another place. The time is 1815, the place is deep in the North Carolina mountains and the story Duigan tells is of a simple man who does one great thing. August King (Jason Patric) is a widowed farmer who, returning from market, meets up with a runaway slave, Annalees (Thandie Newton). He does not try to help her out of profound moral, religious or political feeling -- and he does not try to help her right away. Initially, he simply can't refuse her one favor, because he is a gentle man. Then he can't refuse her a cup of milk, because he is a sweet man. And then this humble farmer comes to realize just what kind of man he really is, and he cannot refuse her anything. His coming to understand his own moral, religious and political feelings is a solemn and beautiful journey. The images in this movie, too, are beautiful. The views of mountains and streams are so vivid that one gets the actual scent of the forest. The ending may seem less than happy to those whose sensibilities have been dulled by standard Hollywood products, but most will find this story of two people unforgettable. -- Edith Sorenson