The Lovers Of The Arctic Circle

The Lovers Of The Arctic Circle

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The Lovers Of The Arctic Circle

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What differentiates coincidence from fate? In the deeply romantic The Lovers Of The Arctic Circle, coincidences are frequent, but its characters rarely call the seemingly predestined convergence of good fortune fate. Beautifully written and directed by Julio Medem (Cows, Earth), whose visuals are as poetic as his script, this spiritual Spanish film (his fourth) works within the confines of romantic comedy but strays from the inevitability that strains such a tried-and-true film formula. When young Otto (played as an adult by Fele Martínez) first encounters Ana (played as an adult by Najwa Nimri), it's love at first sight. Nimri, however, initially sees in Martínez the spirit of her recently deceased father. She eventually falls in love with him, but by then he has become depressed that Nimri is not an adequate substitute for his recently deceased mother. The Lovers Of The Arctic Circle is filled with such parallels. Ana and Otto's names are both palindromes, and the movie is tricky in much the same way: It ends as it begins, documenting 17 years of togetherness, separation, rebirth, reunion, and tragic ruin as the lovers repeatedly cross paths (for a while even as stepsiblings). That's assuming, of course, that the two are on different paths to begin with. As the movie progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that the lovers may really be destined for each other, their respective family histories intersecting at more than one convenient junction. But Medem, enlisting some fine touches of magic realism, meddles with audience expectations, and his corruption of cinematic conventions and clichés ultimately makes The Lovers Of The Arctic Circle something of a metaphysical movie illusion, going exactly where you expect it to go, yet somehow ending up at a different point entirely.

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