Sunday, 3 May 2009

Lovers of the Arctic Circle


Los amantes del círculo polar; Romantic drama, Spain/ France, 1998; D: Julio Medem, S: Kristel Díaz, Victor Hugo Oliviera, Najwa Nimri, Fele Martinez, Nancho Novo

Otto and Ana meet when they are 8 years old. Otto is sad because his father divorced his mother, while Ana is sad because her father died. Their parents start a relationship so they become stepbrother and stepsister, and are often driven to school by car. As teenagers, they secretly fall in love and Otto leaves his mother to be with Ana, her mother and father in the house. But when his mother dies, Otto becomes depressive and goes to Lapland under the Arctic Circle. Ana also accidentally goes to live there and meets him again, but gets ran over by a bus and dies.

Inspired romantic elegy "Lovers of the Arctic Circle" by Julio Medem - the director of demanding 'adult romance' - virtuoso blends static subtlety and extroverted scenes that grab attention. The exposition is shown from two perspectives - at first, the story shows the doubts of Otto who asks himself if Ana likes him, and then the doubts of Ana who wonders if Otto likes her. Their slow attraction that melts the barriers of their family was smoothly shown by Medem and their first intercourse was unconventionally affirmed - Ana gives Otto a family photo on which she secretly wrote that he should be brave and enter her room in the dark. He does by entering though the window, spots her naked and thus exits out of the room again. But then he goes back in, starts masturbating but then stops and hugs her sincerely in bed: thanks to Medem's calligraphy, that sequence avoided becoming cheap and instead turned out honestly true. He shows deep emotions, from the tragic one like in the scene where Otto finds his mother dead on the table that is surrounded by flies up the poetic, metaphysical ones, like the fast-forward shot in which the Sun is "traveling" through the horizon. Despite oscillation of rhythm and a few omissions, this is an extraordinary film.

Grade:+++

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