Like an icy myth of Sisyphus, ARCTIC is a tale of endurance and altruism.
When all seems lost in the frost, Mads Mikkelsen’s character, Overgard, wills himself to go on, survive and keep hope.
Overgard’s plane has gone down down somewhere in the Arctic circle, and all he can see of the landscape is white with his eyes.
Remaining near his downed aircraft, he has established a fishing hole which provides him with fresh protein. He has etched out an SOS in the snow and lives in hope of rescue as he busies himself with fishing and cartography to fill in the days.
Then a chopper appears, a helping helicopter, salvation salivatingly close, before it is chopped down by a blitzing blizzard. The rescuee becomes the rescuer as one poor soul survives the crash. Alive but unconscious, this woman magnifies Overgard’s mission to live.
ARCTIC is a 90 minute nail-biter that moves at glacial pace and yet yields nuggets of drama, suspense, terror, and a gamut of emotion from empathy to despair and the hair breadth sliver of hope.
Mads Mikkelsen is magnificent as Overgard, in what is essentially a silent movie. Apart from the odd expletive, there is very little said, but the communication is lush and vivid from facial expression, eye contact and the exertion of body language.
Writer director, Joe Penna, has the grace to pace the frame in a latitude of verisimilitude sans platitude.
Yes, there is a bear in there, but that hoary old cliché of wilderness woebegoneness is handled so matter- of – factly, that it surprises.
ARCTIC is an optimist allusion – a slow burn rather than a fast blizzard – an action movie of perseverance rather than perverse relentlessness.
ARCTIC is a freeze frame epic of endurance. Chill and thrill.
ARCTIC opens Valentine’s Day at Dendy Cinemas Newtown
Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, Cremorne.