Till the End of the World (南极绝恋)

That seems like a lot of work

S tranded in Antarctica has got to be one of those great fears, huh? It’s like being stranded on a desert isle, except the climate hates you, too. Which exactly might you prefer? Dying in an Antarctic plane crash … or surviving it? No, I’m not being morbid; this simply isn’t a place where you get out and call Uber, assuming you can get out at all, of course.

On film, I feel like there’s a comedy sized airplane (large, many people) and a tragedy sized airplane (seats -at most- a small band of Jurassic Park bound idiots). While the big one may host some terrorists, it’s generally pretty safe. The tragic one will crash. And it will kill off every non-named character in the process. So, if you haven’t got a name, for the love of Buddy Holly, don’t get on that plane. Even if you do have a name, you might not walk away from this. Take Jing Ruyi (Zishan Yang), for instance. When the wing rips off and takes a chunk of the fuselage with it, the upper cabin lands squarely on Yi’s leg, shattering her tibia. You would think a scientist should have known to keep her seat in an upright, locked position, but there are no flight attendants to remind you of such on a tragic sized aircraft.

With the puddle jumper sliding into this kind of big puddle I like to call “the ocean,” Ruyi has to rely on the one survivor from the flight, Wu Fuchun (Mark Chao. Am I pronouncing that right? “Mark?”). Turns out Fuchun came to Antarctica for the glamor. I didn’t quite catch whether or not he was wearing a giant dollar-sign medallion when the plane crashed, but such certainly wouldn’t have been out-of-place next to his gaudy fur coat and playboy ‘tude. Fuchun has a truly awful money making idea about selling Antarctic weddings. I have no idea who would bite, why they would bite, or how Fuchun planned to get rich off this idea, but if you’re in a penguin suit, you may as well be surrounded by penguins, right?

Fuchun wrestles with the idea of saving Ruyi; he’s no hero. Perhaps he does it because she’s a scientist and he’s not. Perhaps because he wanted a companion, or perhaps just because ushering a potentially savable person to a watery grave would haunt him for the rest of his life. And that’s it. Ambulatory Fuchun and not-so-ambulatory Ruyi stuck in the ice together. The good news? “Hey! That’s a cabin!”  Isn’t that the coup? The bad news? Pretty much every other thing you could imagine. They don’t know where they are. They can’t communicate with the outside world. Heck, they barely communicate with themselves. They have a limited amount of heat and supplies. And as soon as summer ends in 75 days, this honeymoon is over.

So, what do you do when stranded with a stranger on a giant ice cube? Pray that global warming shows up? Invite the seals over for dinner? Build the world’s largest snowman?  Till the End of the World is based on a book by Youyin Wu. This just happens to be the same name listed as writer and director on this film. What a coincidence! That’s a neat trick, huh? Writing a novel and then being able to turn your work into a movie by yourself. Good for him.

Till the End of the World wasn’t terribly kind to Ruyi, who came off as near helpless in her condition. Other than that, however, I was very happy with the character development and reluctant romance in the film. The film comes off as an upgraded version of The Mountain Between Us. The axiom of “love the one you’re with” is common; less common is the idea that constant anxiety breeds maturity. Perhaps it does, and may you never find out.

An Antarctic trip has the passengers abuzz
Yet the dark side will conquer because
In this frigid setting
There’s no end of fretting
Where planes go down, but the sun never does

Not Rated, 117 Minutes
Director: Youyin Wu
Writer: Youyin Wu
Genre: Stuck
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: Penguins
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: People who enjoy night

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