• Name: Arctic
• Year: 2018
• Country: Iceland
• Director: Joe Penna
• Main cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir
• Runtime: 97 minutes
• Production company: Armory Films, Pegasus Pictures, Union Entertainment Group (II)
Arctic (2018) could look at first sight as a minimal movie, but it is more mastodontic than one might think. Yes, pretty much the whole time is only actor Mads Mikkelsen on the screen, and his only acting partner Maria Thelma Smáradóttir stays pretty much the whole footage motionless and silent, near dead. But this is no experimental film, neither some sort of documentary. This is a quest for survival, plain and simple. No subplots, no good and evil, only nature and men. Aggressive nature, as the Icelandic Arctic snow deserts are, but here is where we as species, as evolved mammals, away of the commodities of the civility, must prove we are in the conditions of survival.
The movie starts and for a while we accompany the character played by Mads Mikkelsen on his daily routines. Survival instinct, routinary and almost mechanical tasks, in order to warranty his food supply and broadcast his SOS message, with a tiny hope that someone could hear his aid cry. We never got to see his airplane accident, we are set since the beginning to his improvised campsite inside of the crashed plane. But there is neither a need for that. The reasons for the crash are irrelevant for this story. But then it all changes when good old Mads witnesses a helicopter crash. Only one survivor, a young woman, but she is seriously injured and unconscious. She won’t move and if he leaves her there she will surely die within minutes. So he does what his humane instincts dictate, she brings her to his little compound and takes care of her. And from there, the only thing in the mind of the lonesome survivor is to manage to get back to the civilization, to search for aid. Because now he’s not alone anymore, in a bad situation but still able to manage. Now he is responsible for the life of another human being. And he has no time to waste.
This movie is one of this kind that can bring your faith back in mankind, in the goodness that might still reside in us human beings. Something that, with the everyday news and most of the entertainment industry, has been sometimes forgotten. The plot might remind to a movie that became an instant classic for its crude scenes and the moral debates it opened, Alive (1993). But don’t mistake yourself, Arctic (2018) is far from that. It is almost on the total opposite. No conflicts here but the need to survive. No one is conspiring against the other. For me, that is one of the best achievements of the movie. The way everything gets extremely simple, there is only one thing to achieve in the hour and half of the movie, and it is to survive.
I’m a junkie for good plots full of surprises, but I have no other chance than to surrender myself to the delicious simplicity of Arctic (2018). The movie doesn’t get boring. And the audience gets instantly attached to the two strands, since the very start. It seriously gets to get the best in all of us, but at the same time our fears for the wellness of the characters are stronger than in many other movies. The script is very well written, authored by the director Joe Penna and his frequent co-writer Ryan Morrison. The two of them are already in the pre-production process of their newest film, a science-fiction thriller called Stowaway (2020) that won’t see the light until 2 more years. But man, with Arctic (2018) they already won me, and I’m already marking their next movie as a must-see.
Beauty can exist in the aridest places. Beauty can reside in the simplest simplicity. It does. And with a so delicate production like Arctic (2018), masterfully starred by Mads Mikkelsen, a story written with a perfect sense of timing and storytelling, and a superb direction of a newby ex-Youtuber, the deepest of all beauties also become the fiercest of all dangers, with the cruelty of a tragic ending that is forseen as unavoidable since the very beginning. But, as an audiovisual spectacle, it was a delight to watch.
IMDB URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6820256
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