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A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei, a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere... Written by
Koktebel Film Company
Two men man an isolated weather station in the Arctic circle. Sergei is older and experienced with a wife and son at home. Pavel is young and bored, resentful of Sergei's dominance yet dependent on it. Into this already tense environment comes the news that Sergei's wife and son were badly injured in an accident. Pavel receives the message while Sergei is out fishing. Because of the way things play out, Pavel doesn't deliver the message right away; as the opportune moment passes him by, it becomes harder and harder to tell Sergei even while the direness of his screw up becomes more and more obvious. Eventually, hostilities boil over and Pavel's paranoia reaches such a crescendo that he takes off into the wilderness on a self-imposed cat and mouse chase, convinced that Sergei wants to kill him.
It's almost ludicrous that something that really is at heart pretty banal (failing to deliver a message, even if that message is very serious) could trigger events that reach the conclusion they do (I won't spoil it, but the end to this movie is grim, folks). But the movie is so well made and acted that everything is entirely plausible, and it's easy to see how distrust can so easily grow when given the right conditions.
My understanding is that both actors won German film prizes for their work, and no wonder. Until the final scene, not another human being appears, and it falls to the two of them to hold our attention with nothing more than a stark if beautiful landscape to act against.
Well hold it they do.
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