Burn Your Maps

Jordan RobertsUSA102 minutes2016PGColourEnglish

In this charming and moving adventure story, an eight-year-old boy (Jacob Tremblay, Room) becomes convinced that he actually hails from the steppes of Mongolia, leading his troubled parents (Vera Farmiga and Martin Csokas) to undertake an incredible family voyage.

Based on a short story by Robyn Joy Leff, Burn Your Maps is an auspicious directorial turn from Jordan Roberts, the co-writer of Big Hero 6. It's a story filled with drama, humour, universal truths, and Mongolian goats. Lots of them.

After suffering a terrible tragedy, married couple Alise (Vera Farmiga) and Connor (Marton Csokas) are trying very hard — and failing — to maintain family stability. When their eight-year-old son, Wes (Jacob Tremblay), takes his school-project research on Mongolia very seriously, they are naturally supportive. But soon, Wes becomes convinced that he actually is a Mongolian goat herder, and can even name the village where he belongs. Wes befriends Ismail (Suraj Sharma), an Indian immigrant who accepts the child's assertion without question. The two of them decide that Wes must go to Mongolia, and that Ismail will make a documentary about it.

Disturbed by their son's obsession with his newly discovered identity, Alise and Connor are divided about how to respond. In a bid to heal herself by indulging her son, Alise agrees that the whole family will go to Mongolia in search of the village, and Connor finally, reluctantly agrees. But getting to the steppes is just the first part of this family's unforgettable journey.

Farmiga and Csokas bring all their considerable skills to this charming and moving adventure story. And Jacob Tremblay, who galvanized viewers in Room, is affecting and endearing as the young boy on a burning mission. Burn Your Maps is, appropriately enough, a story with many twists and turns, and it ventures into some still-uncharted territories of the heart.

JANE SCHOETTLE

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