(out of 5)
A fact-based account of a terrifying story, in which a shipping vessel launches off the coast of the Westman Islands of Iceland only to have its net snag on a rock on the ocean floor that catches the winch and drags the entire vessel into the freezing cold Atlantic Waters. The entire crew dies almost immediately except for one man, who manages somehow to swim for six hours towards shore, walk two hours on the rocky volcanic ash and arrive near dead to his village where he is rushed immediately to the hospital. He becomes something of a media sensation, declared a national hero and sent to London where doctors study him to discover just what special abilities he possesses that allowed him to survive his ordeal; turns out there is nothing definitive beyond the fact that his large size and high fat percentage kept his organs from freezing, something his leaner fellow crew members could not benefit from. Baltasar Kormakur’s intelligent, absorbing drama gets through this harrowing tale with absolutely no gilding on the lily, telling a tight and efficient story with grace and intelligence and never editorializing with emotional manipulation (at least not in a way that is obvious). The spare style only adds to the film’s power, and scenes of a man lost in the middle of endless watery expanse are incredibly haunting.
Directed by Baltasar Kormakur
Screenplay by Jon Atli Jonasson, Baltasar Kormakur
Cinematography by Bergsteinn Bjorgulfsson
Produced by Agnes Johansen, Baltasar Kormakur
Production Design by Atli Geir Gretarsson
Costume Design by Helga I. Stefánsdóttir