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review

It feels like a dream of painterly Canadian Impressionism, the far-off village that emerges, with almost breathtaking slowness, out of a wintry expanse in the opening frames of Kim Nguyen's downbeat High Arctic romance. Lucy (a radiantly troubled Tatiana Maslany) and Roman (a heroically distraught Dane DeHaan) are the titular pair of star-crossed lovers, and Gordon Pinsent is the august voice of a majestic if down-to-earth polar bear: one of many creatures and spirits who stalk Nguyen's alternately surreal and drab landscape. Clinging to each other like life preservers in a storm, having fled ugly secrets from their past, the lovers resolve to snowmobile their way south and start anew. The dialogue may be fairy-tale simplistic – "I've loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you," Roman declares – and there's some foreshadowing that's a mite heavy-handed, but Nguyen is trying to fuse the sweaty, animalistic attraction of desperate young lovers to a new northern mythology. Like those who live up there, viewers have two choices: Give yourself over to the experience, and you'll be transported; stand back, and you'll feel nothing but chill.

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