Filing from Telluride, Cinematical‘s Eugene Novikov says that Peter Weir‘s The Way Back “enters the canon of survival films as perhaps the most sadistically intent on making you feel as much of its subjects’ physical agony as possible. Despite its impeccable awards pedigree and prestige pic status, it may be too straight-up harrowing to get much traction, either with the Academy voters or at the box office. [But] for those with the fortitude to take the plunge, it offers an intense, morally thorny exploration of the limits of human endurance.”

HE reader Terry Woods calls it “a hugely harrowing experience. The first half is better than the second half, which covers more of the journey the escaped prisoners make, but the film is never less than totally absorbing. I’ll go so far as to say the first half is the best work that Weir has ever done in my opinion, and the second half is still better than most Hollywood product churned out today.

Jim Sturgess is excellent here. I haven’t been a huge fan before but there’s a scene near the beginning where Sturgess doesn’t utter a word but says everything with his eyes — it took my breath away. And the cinematography is award-worthy. Really try and catch this one, Jeff. A big-scale movie for adults, although commercial prospects may be dicey due to the overall darkness in tone and unflinching portrayal of the subject matter. It needs to be released in December to gather some awards momentum.”

But apparently that’s not in the cards. I’m reading from Deadline’s Pete Hammond that Newmarket, the film’s distributor, isn’t going to open The Way Back in December…right?