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ARCTIC film review

– By Cate Marquis -

The Arctic is among the most extreme environments found on earth, at the limits of where mankind can survive. The film ARCTIC focuses on one man marooned in that environment, spinning a deeply human tale of survival in the harshest of wildernesses. The drama/thriller is also a tour-de-force performance by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, in a nearly wordless minimalist adventure of endurance.

This is not entirely a “man alone in the wilderness” tale, although Mikkelsen’s character Overgard starts out alone. It is the appearance of another person, injured in a helicopter crash, that sends him on his journey.

With Mikkelsen’s remarkable performance, ARCTIC is about as good as it gets for man in the wilderness drama, at least of the frozen variety. The snowy landscape has an austere beauty but the sense of cold seeps into your bones watching his ordeal crossing the icy terrain. Only the human warmth of the character’s concern for this charge breaks the chill.

Shot on location in Iceland in a remote volcanic plateau, with an experienced Icelandic crew, the harsh conditions shown reflect the reality of the challenging locale. Director and co-writer Joe Penna, who wrote the script with Ryan Morris, thoroughly researched arctic survival, consulting with pilots, survivors and experts, to add a sense of gripping reality to the film. The story is fictional but also universally true as a picture of extreme survival.