Sponsored by a consortium of European countries and their film departments, Microcosmos is a wonder to behold. The nature documentary's exquisite footage was shot in an anonymous meadow surrounded by trees somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. A sweetly voiced narrator announces that in the meadow a season is a lifetime and invites viewers to marvel over the bucolic location's many insect residents. What follows is a microphotographic, extremely close-up examination of the behavior of some familiar but nonetheless fascinating bugs. Among other beautifully shot sequences, the documentary shows bees hovering over gloriously colored flowers; ants bearing enormous burdens; spiders capturing struggling flies; ladybugs trundling along branches; butterflies emerging from their cocoons; and water bugs recoiling from raindrops on a small pond's stormy surface. Microcosmos also includes a few scenes of insect courting, insect violence and insect encounters with other species. All nature lovers should be intrigued by the film, but even those who think of themselves as anti-bug should find something fascinating, even lyrical about the complex insect world revealed in Microcosmos.
The Quiet Room
Australian filmmakers seem to have a special ability to produce the occasional highly unusual motion picture. The latest entry in this select category is The Quiet Room. Set in only two rooms, with a tiny cast, the film reveals the interior monologue of an Australian schoolgirl (Chloe Ferguson). The 7-year-old has turned mute in protest against her bickering parents (Celine O'Leary and Paul Blackwell), whose marriage is in a downward spiral. The deeply unhappy and confused girl wants her small family to return to the happiness they knew when she was a 3-year-old (Phoebe Ferguson), shown in flashback, but knows only one way to do so — a regression into silence. Her loving but frustrated parents try to understand their daughter; but her behavior, and their own, is well beyond any easy answer. Eventually, the family comes to a hard-won compromise that allows them to get on with their lives. Although The Quiet Room's cinematic technique is a somewhat distracting at first, eventually it proves to be a powerful path into a young girl's psyche.
Teenage twins Bonnie (Kirsten Dunst) and Sam (Zachery Ty Brown) are summoned by their mother (Dey Young) to join her and their stepfather, Dick (Michael Gross), at a conference in northern British Columbia. On the flight to the conference, the small plane the twins are riding in crashes. The pilot and another passenger are killed, but Bonnie and Sam emerge relatively unscathed. The crash attracts Khonanesta (August Schellenberg), a local Indian who promises to escort them to a ranger station. The trio's trek across brutal if beautiful terrain is complicated by the machinations of a band of poachers who are determined to kill a local Kodiak bear. Khonanesta is determined to foil their intentions, and the twins join him in making life awkward for the evil men. However, the poachers soon take their revenge on the trio and a few others. Although True Heart is meant to be a family film set in a glorious location and employing impressive animal sequences, the plotting is pedestrian and incorporates unnecessary violence. The result is an uneven wilderness epic.
Loretta G. Seyer is editor of Catholic Faith & Family.