Map of the Human Heart
This is the best kind of human adventure, based on the personal journey of a man who could not have imagined his end at his start. As a young Eskimo boy in the 1930s, , Avik (Joamie, played later by Lee), is fascinated by visiting British cartographer Russell (Bergin). Instead of "Holy Cow!" Avik exclaims "Holy Boy!" by which he comes to be known.
The mapmaker arrives in a plane, astonishing the Eskimos; when he leaves, he takes Avik to Montreal to be treated for t.b. To Avik, the city is unbelievable; he couldn't imagine it. He makes a lifelong friend in the hospital, Albertine (played as a girl by Galipeau, and as a woman by Parillaud.
She's half-Indian, half-white; he's half-Eskimo, half-white. Each stands between two worlds. For Avik, meeting Albertine changes his life, setting in motion events that lead to WW II Britain, where Avik becomes an aerial photographer on bombing missions, and meets Albertine again, only to find she's involved with Russell.
Director Ward gives the romantic triangle unusual treatment; his characters avoid cheap sentiment. Avik and Albertine renew their love in powerful scenes - one on top of a barrage balloon, another in the ceiling of the Royal Albert Hall. The story is told in flashback; it begins in the present, with a new mapmaker (Cusack) visiting the village. Avik, now an old man, tells his story. It's a delicious, involving film, told with power and charisma.
Jason Scott Lee brings joy and freshness to early scenes, in contrast to the older Avik, who has lost his way. Parillaud is both warmth and has steely courage in scenes when Avik is far from home. Russell is not the villain, but when the heart is involved, motives can be murky.
When Avik and Albertine meet in the hospital, it's magical. In a tent of sheets, they exchange their deepest secrets. When Avik leaves, he takes Albertine's X-rays. Later, the pair communicate through notes on aerial photographs Avik takes and Albertine catalogues, and which introduces an extraordinary scene of Dresden's fire-bombing.
We never know where the movie is going: it's a love story, a war story, and an autobiography, and covers all that ground in an original way, and deals with familiar emotions, but not in a familiar way. The best movies reinvent themselves as they go, and "Map of the Human Heart" is one of the best of 1993.
Louis Nowra, based on a story by Vincent Ward
Jason Scott Lee, Robert Joamie, Anne Parillaud, Annie Galipeau, Patrick Bergin
Eskimo village; mixed-race couple; WWII
English Reviewer's Name:
When using above purchase link, type the movie name in Search Box that will appear, and select DVD or VHS.