The Last Trapper (Nicolas Vanier). 94 minutes. Opens Friday (March 17). For venues and times, see Movies, page 97. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Remote Yukon trappers like Norman Winther and Alex Van Bibber are a dying breed.
Writer/director Nicholas Vanier has fictionalized their lives and cast them, and Norman's real-life Nahanni Indian wife, May Loo , as themselves. But that doesn't make The Last Trapper a documentary; the story is scripted and entirely re-enacted. Unfortunately, the real people are not convincing actors.
When the narrative begins, Norman and May (film name Nebraska) are being forced to move in late fall because clear-cutting has driven the local wild animals away. Using two horses and a canoe, they move their belongings and build a log house from scratch before the bad weather arrives. This seems like a stretch. When Norman risks his life and nearly loses his dogs on a two-day trek for a casual visit with fellow trapper Alex, our credulity continues to be strained.
Thierry Machado 's cinematography and Krishna Levy 's musical score are captivating. It's gripping to see the dogs survive plunges into icy water or near falls from rock cliffs, especially since wranglers control their actions for heightened effect. These scenes make up for the missing human drama -- up to a point.