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  • Mads MikkelsenMaria Thelma Smáradóttir
  • Action & AdventureDrama
  • Joe Penna
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Cairo 360
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Arctic: Perseverance

Standing out can be a good or bad thing, but watching someone stand out, whether in a good or bad way, is much more of an experience than just watching someone take the safe way out. While Arctic is not a crowd-pleaser, it is definitely different.

Arctic follows Overgård (Mads Mikkelsen), a man stranded in the Arctic after his plane crashes. Overgård does whatever he can to survive and has a planned-out approach to his ice-surrounded, isolated life. That is until he is alone no more. In order for him and his unexpected guest (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) to survive, they must go on a long journey to reach the nearest help. With unexpected traumas here and there, how much longer can they survive?

Arctic is a survival film that has a very basic concept of man versus the unexpected hurdles of nature in the empty, white arctic. The filmmakers took a minimalist approach to the film with a major reliance on the character and the harsh surroundings around him and his guest.

The film, however, avoids a commonly taken road by many survival films, which is flashbacks giving background on the characters. Arctic provides minimal background, and instead relies on in-action characterisation and focuses on the ordeal itself, leaving out anything before or after.

The pace is relatively slow, with very few major plot points and events, taking the audience slowly through the main character’s journey of survival. Even though the characters’ ordeal is very intense, there isn’t much happening on screen a lot of the time, especially between each small event and the next, leaving audiences waiting for something to happen and somewhat bored.

Arctic contains very little to almost no dialogue which also adds to the eventless feeling that can leave audiences bored, but also made every single word count.

The film’s shooting shows a lot of effort and employs vast icy landscapes that are both extremely beautiful as well as very haunting.

As for the acting, Mads Mikkelsen did an amazing job when it came to the tough survivor character, even in the few weak moments. However, Mikkelsen paid very little attention to audience lovability which may also be part of the film’s direction to simply focus on the ordeal itself. Maria Thelma Smáradóttir had a smaller and much more monotone or repetitive role due to the situation of her character in the film. Smáradóttir also lacked charisma.

Most will think this movie is boring and even annoying as it stretches out what is usually a part of survival films, and they are probably right. If perseverance was the film’s point, then it was achieved as audiences finally made it to the end.

Like This? Try

The Martian (2015), Lone Survivor (2013), 127 Hours (2010), The Revenant (2015).

360 Tip

The film received a 10-minute standing ovation at its premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

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