Arctic is the debut feature from director Joe Penna, whom you might recognise as Mystery Guitar Man from the early days of YouTube. Here he has teamed up with the ever fantastic Mads Mikkelsen to create a story of survival in one of the harshest environments on earth, the Arctic tundra.
The film shows only what it needs to, starting with a cold open (no pun intended) where we are presented with Mads’ character, a pilot who has already been stranded for a while after his plane went down in a snow covered valley. Using materials from his downed plane, Mads seems to have been getting by for a while, until for a certain reason he embarks on a perilous journey to find some kind of salvation.
Penna directs with restraint on location, and you can really tell how much poor Mads went through here. With a mostly silent performance, Mads’ body language and the camera convey most of the story and works very very well.
Arctic feels very realistic all the way through, even when Mads’ has the inevitable encounter with a Polar Bear none of it felt fake and we had a fair few gasps and jumps from the audience at Adelaide Film Festival.
With an uncompromising vision of the raw and desolate tundra, Arctic pulls everything together for a great story of survival and willpower with a beautiful performance by Mads Mikkelsen.
Arctic is out early next year, thanks to Adelaide Film Festival for the screening and passes used for this review!