The Cold Lands (2013)

The Cold LandsSkip this film! Or watch it if you want to see how ten minutes of content can be turned into 140 minutes of excruciatingly boring film. Written and directed by Tom Gilroy, The Cold Lands (2013) is a Coming-of-Age flick with the aim of exploring the tribulations and transformations faced by 11-year-old Atticus (Silas Yelich) as his somewhat sheltered and carefree childhood comes to an abrupt end.

While the premise doesn’t sound so bad, viewers are graced with every cliché one could think of for a film in the Coming-of-Age genre: from the way in which the characters are developed to the manner in which the story unfolds. Included are: an introverted kid, a hard-working single mother (Lili Taylor), a tragedy followed by moral guidance from a guardian angel, a rebellious older role-model …you get the picture.

The director spends 40 minutes to establish the main premise of the film, making sure that viewers are well aware just how special is the bond shared by Atticus and his mother – something that could have been achieved in one scene or with screen time no more than five to ten minutes.

The film takes a realistic approach to storytelling (real life is not always fast moving and exciting). There is a deep drama in the core of the story, making the film a kind of character study. But The Cold Lands fails to evoke any tangible emotions, leaving the audience indifferent to the fate of the film’s protagonist.  Its biggest let down is in the story itself, or at least the way it is presented, while the cinematography and acting are not as disappointing. But those are not enough justification  to spend two hours in front of screen.

The Cold Lands Official Trailer


  1. I saw this movie quite recently and loved it. The long exposition, which was anything but boring, was necessary not simply to establish the bond between Atticus and his mother, but also to demonstrate the independent, “self sufficient” lifestyle that the two of them had worked out. When his mother dies, Atticus is in real danger of falling into the well meaning clutches of social services and of losing his individuality. Instead he escapes and manages not only to save himself, but also the confused loner who befriends him. I found this to be a terrific and original little movie.

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