Thursday 9 September 2010

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

Destiny and chance play a big part in our lives, even if those of a more realistic and pragmatic disposition, like me, would claim that most of the time we shape our own fate. Still, there's always space for what-ifs scenarios and that's exactly what Basque director Julio Medem had in mind when he made 'Los Amantes del Círculo Polar' ('The Lovers of the Arctic Circle')

Otto and Ana are two children in the same school who end up sharing more than an educational institution. Their names are palindromes and after Otto's parents separate, his father begins a relationship with Ana's mother. Thus, Otto and Ana's paths are brought together by fate. Fortuity is also present when their childhood friendship becomes adolescence romance. But since they have grown up together like brother and sister, their relationship has to be kept secret. Finally, after cheating on him for a long time with a colleague at work, Ana's mother leaves Otto's father. This causes a rift between the latter and his son. Otto flees home and later becomes a pilot. Ana moves to Lapland, within the Arctic Circle, where she can watch the midnight sun she had often discussed with Otto when they were children. Otto, meanwhile, on finding out Ana's whereabouts, flies to Lapland to meet her.

'Los Amantes del Círculo Polar' deals with themes already explored by other Medem's vehicles. On this blog we've had 'Vacas' and very soon I will be writing about 'Lucía y el Sexo' ('Sex and Lucia'). In 'Los Amantes del Círculo Polar', the chances one encounters in life and how to take full advantage of them, love, death and destiny are recurring themes.

As befits the title, the action is circular. Ana sees the spectre of his dead father when she first lays eyes on Otto. Otto looks for Ana years after he's left home. One of the better moments in the film is when Otto, still unlucky in his search, sits in a public square behind Ana, as she considers breaking up with her current boyfriend. Of such fleeting instants is real life made. It's no coincidence (or maybe it is?) that Ana's life ends under the wheels of a coach. Under a vehicle with four circular frames.

As a director, Medem has always enjoyed good performances from his leads and supporting cast. 'Los Amantes del Círculo Polar' continues in the same tradition with Najwa Nimri and Fele Martínez excelling in their roles as young Ana and Otto respectively. Nancho Novo, who had already worked with Medem before in 'La Ardilla Roja' ('The Red Squirrel'), is excellent playing the father. Maru Valdivielso completes the quartet with a great turn as the mother.

Julio Medem's fourth feature film tells a good story based on the what-ifs life throws at us. It is another visual gem from the Basque director which I recommend to all cinema lovers.

© 2010

Next Post: 'Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music', to be posted on Sunday 12th September at 10am (GMT)


  1. From your description, this sounds like a great romantic story. I'll have to watch it.


  2. Thanks Cuban, a world of cinema I wouldn't discover without you.

    Destiny and chance - prime movers, I often think. We have choices, but there are bigger wheels turning around ours which move us to the place of choosing. Think I inherited this belief from my witchy mother, who is the ultimate pragmatist. Go figure!

  3. I loved that movie and had forgotten all about it! That's because I'm getting old, I think, and is no reflection on the movie. I'm going straight to Netflix...

  4. Star-crossed lovers. I'll watch to see whether their fate is good fortune or not.

    All the best from Boston

  5. Ah yes, that's one I would see. But will it come to my little village in the south of France? Maybe! They're pretty enterprising about getting 'foreign' films. I echo Titus' comments about things I would never know without your reveiws. With you, period.

  6. ah..that should have read, without you, period.

  7. Again another work of art you bring to my attention. Another was Rayuela, about which I wrote today in my blog. I thank you there and here for bringing that extraordinary novel to my attention.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

  10. I had forgotten about that movie - thanks for reminding me. It's now in the Netflix list. What would we do without you? Movies, philosophy, are a one man source!



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