Starring: Mads Mikkelsen
One man against the elements. It’s the classic scenario of the survival story – the Robert Redford vehicle All Is Lost being one of the most recent examples that comes to mind. What makes Arctic so peculiar, in this respect, is that the director, the Brazilian-born Joe Penna, chose such a scenario for his feature-length debut, shot on location in Iceland to accurately simulate the Arctic environment.
At the centre of it all is one man, played by Mads Mikkelsen. We do not know how long he’s been stranded in the white wilderness, although his daily routine suggests it has been a while: checking on the daily food supply (makeshift fishing holes), digging a huge 'SOS' into the ground, spending the night in what remains of his plane, hoping that he will soon be rescued. When circumstances change in the most dramatic fashion, he must make a choice: stick to the routine, or undertake a perilous journey that might lead him closer to salvation.
Penna’s direction makes the sense of peril and despair very tactile. Much like the protagonist, we feel the bitter cold, the uncertainty, the immediate danger represented by a particularly feral member of the local fauna (without any CGI trickery, as far as this writer can tell). It is that immediacy and urgency that makes up for the fairly standard writing, which hits every beat in all the expected ways, making for an experience that, while far from groundbreaking, is perfectly effective as a late-night piece of big-screen entertainment (appropriately enough, the film’s world premiere in Cannes was in the midnight slot).
The lion’s share of the dramatic strength rests on Mikkelsen’s shoulders, as the Danish star is essentially alone for most of the running time (there is another credited cast member, but it is best to not say too much on the subject). He delivers his most radical performance since Valhalla Rising: largely silent, stoic, capable of conveying a wide emotional range with a single look or, when speaking is required, the most apparently banal utterances. Fans of the actor will definitely want to seek out this film, which is guaranteed to make a name for itself on the genre/midnight circuit.
|What||Arctic film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
10 May 19 – 10 May 20, TIMES VARY
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more information|