This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
"A Far Off Place" tells the story of three young adolescents - a South African girl, an American boy and their young Bushman guide - who trek 2,000 kilometers across the Kalahari Desert in order to save themselves from evil ivory-poachers. They undertake this grueling ordeal because, we are told, it will take them to the nearest village. As perhaps the only American film critic who has in fact crossed the Kalahari Desert, twice, I could have saved them a lot of trouble. There were dozens of towns and villages within 100 miles of their starting place, and Cape Town itself would have been less than 2,000 kilometers away.
But never mind. Although this movie is based on novels by the great South African writer Laurens van der Post, it seems inspired more by the wonderful 1971 Nicolas Roeg film "Walkabout," in which an Australian girl and her little brother are found in the wilderness by a young Aborigine and led to safety after an experience in which she gains a new understanding of the outback.
There were subtle signs of awakening sexuality between the two young people in "Walk about," which like this film was rated PG.
But "A Far Off Place" is a movie of narrower values and goals, and so although the white girl and the Bushman boy are the only characters necessary for the story, the American boy is manufactured and thrown into the mix to provide a more conventional boyfriend. The spiritual, ennobling relationship between the two characters in "Walkabout" is then replaced here by routine puppy love.