ARCTIC – Review by Susan Granger

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You think it’s cold? You think you’re suffering? When you watch 53 year-old Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen’s grimly harrowing man vs. nature struggle, whatever you’re experiencing pales in comparison.

Mikkelson plays Overgard, a researcher/explorer whose tiny orange-and-white plane crashed in a frozen wasteland. Resourceful, he’s been living in the cabin of that plane for weeks, if not months, sustained by raw fish that he’s pulled from beneath the ice.

Our first sight of him is trudging around, digging, scraping, grunting and clearing a series of paths in the snow; they turns out to form a large, black SOS sign in the white tundra, hopefully visible from the sky above. In addition to that, he spends hours manually cranking a transmitter, signaling for rescue.

When a helicopter hovers nearby, Overgard is ecstatic – until the ferociously howling polar wind causes it to crash. The only survivor is a badly injured woman (Icelandic actress Maria Thelma Smaradottir), the co-pilot whom Overgard is determined to save.

She’s in a state of shock, so Overgard scavenges what he can – a functional cigarette lighter, camper stove, instant ramen, maps and flares – then carries her to his makeshift shelter, where he capably closes a bleeding gash in her belly with a staple gun.

Soon, Overgard realizes that cautiously remaining in his downed plane is futile, so he uses a sled to courageously transport the comatose woman across the vast wilderness, seeking refuge in a cave or quickly constructed igloo. It’s an arduous, perilous trek.

A prowling polar bear is a continuous adversary, first stealing stoic Overgard’s stash of arctic trout, then threatening their lives.

Shot in Iceland, it’s co-scripted by film editor Ryan Morrison and Brazilian-born director Joe Penna with spectacular cinematography by Tomas Orn Tomasson – and, perhaps, it can trace its ancestry to J.C. Chandor’s 2013 “All is Lost,” starring Robert Redford.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.