Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lovesick-Blog-a-Thon: The Most Romantic Film You've Never Seen

Take a show of hands: how many people out there have seen a film by Spanish director Julio Medem? I doubt there are very many hands in the air right now. I say this not to sound elitist, but to exemplify just how many great undiscovered cinematic treasures there are out there right now, and why the existence of blogs (and blogathons) is important; because they give ordinary people ample amount of space to wring out thousands of words about movies past and present at such a frequency that it borders on sensory overload. Julio Medem hasn't made a film since 2002's "Sex and Lucia", so therefore the print media has no reason to highlight this extraordinary director or his work. And that's where blogs come in- to put a pulse on whatever type of film breathes life into a movie watcher or his/her compulsions. More specifically, blogathons, a cyber event that links a host of ideas and thoughts within a given context, do something else that's unique to the blog universe- they help form a community of like minded individuals whose one passion is the consumption of film watching and writing. That's something I don't take lightly.

So back to this Julio Medem fella. In 1999, Medem directed a film entitled "Lovers of the Arctic Circle" (and it certainly sounds romantic doesn't it?) I wandered into it not knowing anything about the filmmaker, any of the actors, or even the storyline. I initially went to see another movie, but that show had been cancelled due to the reel breaking. Even though this was before the oil prices that strangle us car owners today, I couldn't let this trip go to waste, so "Lovers of the Arctic Circle" it was. Upon exiting the film, I was enraptured and stunned by the film's emotional connection. It had touched a nerve deep inside, announcing the presence of a great filmmaker.

As to the film itself, its plot concerns Otto (Fele Martinez) and Anna (Najwa Nimri) as star-crossed lovers who meet as children, fall in love as teenagers, and desperately attempt to reconnect as adults. Like all of Medem's films, "Lovers of the Arctic Circle" plays heavily with chance and fate and it features a fractured narrative that utilizes visual cues as time progresses (cows in "Vacas", a motorcycle in "The Red Squirrel" amd Anna's deep brown eyes in "Lovers"). The relationship that exists between Anna and Otto is not a precocious one, but earns its depth through the playful interaction between Medem's lead actors. By placing them as half brother and sister when Otto's mother marries Anna's father, Medem flirts with something taboo or perverted, yet he plays everything as just the opposite- sweet and endearing. And when the film reaches its bittersweet denouement, it certainly earns its romantic stripes. Medem has built up an incredible well of empathy around his palindromed characters, and the ending is a near-perfect example of heartbreak rendered as magical release. I do have a heart, so I wouldn't dare betray the genuine surprise and sadness that ends Medem's "Lovers of the Arctic Circle". Part of the reason I fell in love with this film is the way it blindsided me, and having a film do that is one of the great pleasures and the reason we watch over and over, hoping for something transcendental. "Lovers of the Arctic Circle" is definitely that.

This entry is a part of the Lovesick blogathon hosted at 100 Films blog. Go there and enjoy some great writing.

1 comment:

Noel Vera said...

O, but I have seen this. Lovely, lovely film, and easily his best work. I do agree, there's something about the use of coincidences and chance that's sometimes a bit too precious, but here seems hushed, and right.