Lovers of the Arctic Circle

on April 09, 1999 by Kristan Ginther
   At times moving but often trite, "Lovers of the Arctic Circle" is long on thematic exploration but short on story. The film's two main characters, Otto (Fele Martinez) and Ana (Najwa Nimri), recount from their individual perspectives how fate brought them to the edge of the Arctic Circle. Their lives have been intertwined since a memorable day on the school playground when eight-year-old Otto chases down Ana. Having both been recently traumatized--Ana's father has died and Otto's parents have separated--the two become inextricably linked. Eventually, Otto's father, Alvaro (Nancho Novo), and Ana's mother, Olga (Maru Valdivielso) marry. Otto and Ana are now stepbrother and stepsister, and as they enter their teen years, their strong affection for each other turns to passionate love. Adulthood is not kind to them and their love affair seemingly ends. However, after several years of failed relationships, they seek each other out, determined to resolve their feelings for one another.
   Well-acted across the board and technically solid, "Lovers of the Arctic Circle" suffers from the split personality of its mastermind, Julio Medem. Director Julio Medem and writer Julio Medem are a Jekyll and Hyde team. The writer Medem has created a story which can best be summed up as uninvolving melodramatic sludge. The themes of romantic destiny and life being a series coincidences have been thoroughly explored in numerous other films, yet are presented here as if they are both new and deeply profound.
   But the director Medem is stylish and innovative, telling this banal story in a very involving way. Utilizing titillating flashbacks and he said/she said first-person narration, director Medem almost tricks you into believing there is more to "Lovers of the Arctic Circle." Sadly, there is not.    Starring Fele Martinez, Najwa Nimri and Nancho Novo. Directed and written by Julio Medem. Produced by Fernando Bovaira and Enrique Lopez Lavigne. A Fine Line release. Drama. Spanish-language; subtitled. Rated R for sexuality and brief language. Running time: 112 min.
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