Screened as part of NZIFF 2018
It’s Mads Mikkelsen versus the elements in this intense survival story shot on location in the frozen grandeur of Iceland’s polar wilderness.
Having crash-landed somewhere in the arctic tundra, Mikkelsen’s stranded pilot seems to have been surviving for what seems like months as the film opens. He has set up a shelter in the broken fuselage of his plane and is living on a diet of raw trout from a nearby frozen lake, where an ominous paw print in the snow may be a sign of dangers to come. He has meticulously carved the ice away from the rocky hillside to form a giant SOS and keeps a regular timetable signalling with a handcranked location beacon, until one day his routine is broken by a surprise occurrence. To say more would give away too much, suffice to say staying put is no longer an option.
First time director Joe Penna came into filmmaking by producing his own YouTube clips, but Arctic is a far cry from the rapid-fire cuts of his viral MysteryGuitarMan videos. He packs the film with plenty of incident and excitement but keeps the action firmly grounded and believable with the assistance of Mikkelsen’s impressively stoic performance. — MM
“The movie is built around the gruff mystique of Mads Mikkelsen, who never betrays a hint of showiness. Mikkelsen’s height and stalwart presence fill the frame, and his face looks inward and outward at the same time; it’s tense, focused, ravaged, not afraid to be a little blank. He speaks just a few words (of English), yet his rapt desperation consumes the viewer.” — Owen Glieberman, Variety