Lovers of the Arctic Circle
(Los Amantes del Círculo Polar)

lovers of the arctic circle

Lovers of the Arctic Circle (Los Amantes del Círculo Polar
Made in: Spain, Finland
Language: Spanish
Director: Julio Medem
Starring: Najwa Nimri, Fele Martínez, Nancho Novo, Maru Valdivieslo, Beate Jensen
Year: 1998

Synopsis: Since they were young children, Ana (Najwa Nimri) and Otto (Fele Martínez) shared a strange bond. Both have names that are palindromes (words that are the same when pronounced either forwards or backwards), and both have divorced parents.

Ana lives with her mother, Olga (Maru Valdivieslo), and while Otto also lives with his mother (Beate Jensen), he spends a great deal of time with his father Álvaro (Nancho Novo).

By chance, Álvaro and Olga meet, fall in love, and eventually marry. Ana and Otto then become step siblings, but as they get older they secretly carry on a bizarre romantic relationship.

Throughout their adult lives, they become destined to encounter a recurring cycle of coincidences and fateful events that tear them apart and eventually bring them back together.

The Good: Having won a number of international film festival awards, Lovers of the Arctic Circle is a very well-made, well-structured film. Najwa Nimri and Fele Martínez both played minor roles in the acclaimed Spanish film Open your Eyes (Abre los Ojos), but prove they can do more than hold their own as lead actors here. Meticulous and detailed, director Julio Medem effectively handles the central theme of recurring coincidences and "circular destiny."

The events surrounding Ana and Otto are consistently fascinating throughout, well-paced, and creative.

Lovers of the Arctic Circle has an artistic, indie edge and the psychological elements come pretty close to making this a mind-f*ck of a movie, but never becomes too "weird" or gets to the point where it loses the viewer.

The Bad: From a storytelling point of view, I don't see any serious flaws in this film, so this time I'll offer a word of warning rather than negative remarks.

Keep in mind that this film is about seriously (and realistically) dysfunctional people, making the story especially dark and depressing if you happen to be someone who's never screwed a step-sibling before. The characters are often unhappy and dealing with deep psychological issues, all of which are believably presented but not at all uplifting.

Who would like this movie: Lovers of the Arctic Circle is for you if you're already a committed fan of independent and/or foreign cinema.

You'll also like it if you like psychological dramas, and are intrigued with themes that delve deeply into the emotional aftermath of life within broken families.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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