Holy shit, those were the words I breathe at the end of Joe Penna’s directorial debut. I don’t usually like survival movies, I usually find them pretty boring but somehow I found Arctic so fascinating. From the visuals to the perfect performance from Mads Mikkelsen and the great story, Arctic wasn’t even on my radar and ended up being one of the best surprises.
Arctic is almost silent, but there’s also a lot of noise in it. With almost no dialogue, it’s all on Mikkelsen to sell the film. Even when he is no longer alone, he has almost nothing to say. And yet, you understand everything that is happening. You get his pain, his relief, his guilt, every emotion that the character goes through, you get. That’s how good he is in this role. It’s his best performance to date without a doubt.
Watching the film, you can’t help but be mesmerized by the amazing cinematography but at the same time, the cinematography is simply geography. The infinity of white that occupies this film is just plain beautiful. The plains, the rocks, even the storms are so beautiful that you can’t help but be in awe of the terrain that they are on. Even when it almost kills them, it’s beautiful.
My grief too often with these types of film is that they run too long. But Arctic runs long enough. Just as I was starting to think that this was enough, it just wraps everything up. It has a clear goal that is established and it does it beautifully. It never feels like the film is too much, even in the scenes that are difficult to watch, it’s just enough. It’s a beautiful balance really.
Arctic might have not even been on your radar, it wasn’t on mine. But it’s a beautiful tale of surviving that deserves your attention really.