Ellen Page was in P’lovers, back when it was still in Park Lane, when the woman volunteering recommended Jean Hegland’s 1996 novel Into the Forest. “She said, ‘I think it would make a good movie.’ And I devoured it, and she was right,” says Page over the phone from Toronto. Set in the near-distant future, it’s about an unexplained apocalypse: The power’s gone out, no one knows why, but food is disappearing and gas is a precious commodity. A pair of sisters, Nell (Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood), are alone in their remote mountain home. The movie is purely about their survival.
Adapted and directed by Patricia Rozema (I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Mansfield Park) with cinematography by another Haligonian, Daniel Grant, Into the Forest is mostly a two-hander. “This was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had in terms of acting,” says Page, who also made her producing debut with this project (though her follow-up, Freeheld, beat it to theatres). “Evan is someone I’ve always wanted to work with. We were acquaintences when this was coming together, then it was a great excuse for us to hang out all the time: ‘Oh, we’re playing sisters!’ Getting to make this with her, with someone you feel so connected to in a specific way, and then you’re feeling connected in a different way, it was incredibly special.”
The story connected to a lot of Page’s interests at the time (and still), “in terms of my own relationship to the environment, our society’s relationship to the environment, the changes we’re seeing in the world. What really attracted me to this story is it’s so intimate, it feels so truthful to me—a relatively plausible situation—and also these two young women are actually incredibly resilient, you know?” she says. “They do manage, in many ways, to start learning and figuring out how to relate to the world that surrounds them, and to survive.”