Sep 22, 2014

Review: Los amantes del Círculo Polar [Lovers of the Arctic Circle] (1998)

This is the first film that I've seen directed by Spanish director Julio Médem. I've only ever heard of two of his films, being Sex and Lucia and Room in Rome prior to seeing Lovers of the Arctic Circle. As usual, I haven't seen either of them but LotAC definitely seems promising.

That's because it was the winner of two Goya Awards in 1999. I've seen quite a few Goya winners and I don't think I've ever seen one that disappointed. La comunidad, The Others, The Orphanage, Volver, La lengua de las mariposas are just a few of the movies I've seen that are Goya winners and they're all great movies in their own right. As a winner of best editing and original score, Lovers of the Arctic Circle looks like it'll be a movie for me. I love good soundtracks and editing is just one those things about movies that can make me drool.


Genre: drama, mystery, romance
Directed by: Julio Medem
Produced by: Fernando Bovaira, Enrique López Lavigne, Fernando de Garcillán, etc.
Written by: Julio Medem
Music by: Alberto Iglesias
Running time: 112 minutes
Production company: Canal+, Sociedad, Sociedad General de Televisión
Distributed by: Altavista, Sociedad General de Cine (SOGECINE) S.A., Colifilms Distribution, etc.
Country: Spain
Language: Spanish, English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Najwa Nimri, Fele Martínez, Nancho Novo, Maru Valdivielso, Peru Medem, Sara Valiente, Víctor Hugo Oliveira, Kristel Díaz, Pep Munné, Jaroslaw Bielski, Rosa Morales, Joost Siedhoff, Beate Jensen, Petri Heino, Outi Alanen



Ana (Najwa Nimri) and Otto (Fele Martínez) both meet as children a little ways beyond their school. Ana (played as a child by Sara Valiente) is distraught over the loss of her father while Otto (played as a child by Peru Medem) was just running after a ball that had been kicked too far. Their gazes meet and something happens. Both instantly develop feelings for each other, but in different ways. In a weird coincidence, their parents get married and both become step-sibling. 


Lover of the Arctic Circle can be summed up as a whole bunch of coincidences. Beautiful coincidences that is. Heartbreaking coincidences as well. Director Julio Medem who also wrote the script is able to inject some real emotion into this story without falling into melodrama. There are some really, really powerful scenes that also feature some great acting. Both Najwa Nimri and Fele Martínez are very strong in their roles and I'm also impressed with the acting of their younger counterparts. 

As a winner of a Goya for editing, you can see that there's no mistake there. This is a beautiful film that is really nicely edited and filmed. It's just a pleasure to watch and to admire in so many ways. I could give a whole bunch of examples but I won't. Just watch it and you'll see. The story isn't totally linear, but looking back LotAC once the ending credits are rolling is a great opportunity to just review everything that happened and how well Medem has pieced his work together.

The story basically cycles between its two main characters, announced by a title screen with either Otto or Ana. These changes in point of view never feel repetitive or boring because while there are some additional scenes that are inserted in, it's just really fascinating to see the story through the other character's eyes. There are even some sequences that feature both characters as one point of view which are really interesting too.

Lovers of the Arctic Circle  may sound like a creepy love movie featuring step-siblings but it really isn't. Both Otto and Ana are rich in character and they go through a lot of emotion as well as pain. The editing is indeed impressive and the soundtrack doesn't disappoint either. It never overwhelms and very professionally just adds to what's going on. LofAC is also an impressively shot and edited movie but I just cannot overstate how well it's written too.



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