Lovers of the Arctic Circle

Director: Julio Medem
Fine Line Features; R; 112 minutes
Release: 4/99
Cast: Fele Martinez, Najwa Nimri

Amid a season of romantic comedies, Lovers of the Arctic Circle provides a much-needed break: it's a romantic complexity. Stunningly shot, elegantly crafted, and deliciously portentous with the power of fate and romance, this Spanish film examines the passions of Otto and Ana (Fele Martinez and Najwa Nimri) from youth into maturity. Director Julio Medem moves seamlessly between different time frames, and the film is sectioned into 'chapters' with voice-overs alternating between Otto and Ana. Their intricate tale proceeds with a nuanced, compelling magic that avoids easy romanticism. Think of the elegant English Patient; Lover's swaps the movie version's relative simplicity in favor of a fluid narrative complexity akin to that of Ondaatje's original novel. Visually this film displays lyrical enchantments of an epic, if not mythological scale. Skillfully integrated music completes Lovers' etude of gut-wrenching beauty.

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