review

'Arctic': better bring your warmest winter coat

Onze score

If you easily empathize with films, you’d better bring your warmest winter coat. Watching Arctic will make you glacial. This is a beautiful feather in the cap of Brazilian director Joe Penna. He barely needed to cheat because he shot the film in extreme weather conditions in one of the coldest places in Iceland.

Actor Mads Mikkelsen describes it as the hardest ordeal in his film career. He plays a man who is trying to survive in an endless snow landscape with only an occasionally peckish polar bear for company. The presence of a plane wreck makes us suspect that he survived a plane crash. But we learn very little else about him.

He fishes. He fights off the cold. He tries to make a radio work. Boredom would set in if it were not for the fact that we are watching the charismatic Mikkelsen who excels at non-verbal communication in a literally and figuratively breath-taking landscape.

This spartan survival film becomes a touch more exciting and melodramatic when the man has to take care of a woman who just barely survives a rescue helicopter crash and makes her way into the wide, white wilderness.

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