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Arctic - Film Review (Brisbane International Film Festival 2018)

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by Lloyd Marken (subscribe)
Lloyd Marken is a freelance writer with a passion for the arts who has been published with Scenestr, Heavy, Buzz, X-Press, FilmInk and Weekend Notes. Visit my blog at
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Mads Mikkelsen gripping in exceptional survival tale
The Brisbane International Film Festival concludes this weekend but there are still plenty of great movies to check out. You can see films from around the world at the five participating cinemas with Reading in Newmarket, the New Farm Six Cinemas and nearby Brisbane Powerhouse, Elizabeth Picture Theatre and Event Cinemas, both in the heart of the CBD, as well as the home base of GOMA at Southbank.

One of the movies is Arctic starring Mads Mikkelsen, which riffs on common tropes of the survival film to ring true and even spiritual. Starting with a cold open, that trusts the audience to get caught up to speed by themselves. We see the daily existence of a downed pilot long after the spectacular crash that lesser movies would need to add for some excitement. Brazilian co-writer Joe Penna, making his directorial debut here, has plenty of thrills in store for us though involving helicopters, polar bears and steep cliff tops. Yet the film always looks to the situation for inspiration. There is no love story with a woman that drives Mikkelsen on to be brave; he is a human being trying to stay alive in a desperate situation relying on what knowledge and fortitude he can call on. The actor makes him sympathetic in a low key performance that gives little backstory but plenty of insight.

There are no sweeping vistas either of the landscape - if our hero can't fly away over the next horizon then neither should the camera, further allowing the audience to share his perspective. There is a spare and matter of fact observance of what is happening which makes everything as a result far more dramatic, including for example a reveal of frostbite. In this film, actions speak louder than words and slowly we understand very clearly what this man is risking and what he will potentially gain.

As BIFF winds down, the well-shot and moving Arctic from Iceland is just one of many cinematic delights on offer this closing weekend. Be sure to check one out.
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When: 6:15pm 20 October 2018
Where: Event Cinemas, Brisbane Myer Centre
Cost: $16.50 Concession $12.50
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