2005, Movie, NR, 84 mins


Three Belgian clowns wrote and directed this sly, winsome tale of one woman's quest for her destiny in the polar seas after an absurd but life-altering accident reveals the emptiness of her mundane, middle-class life.

Fiona (Fiona Gordon) is alone in the fast-food restaurant she manages when, while closing up for the night, she accidentally locks herself in the large walk-in freezer. The following morning she's rescued by her employees, who find her curled up inside a cardboard box, half-frozen, barely alive and wrapped in plastic bags for warmth. Upon returning to her blah, semi-detached home in the suburbs, however, Fiona realizes that neither her husband, Julien (Dominique Abel), nor their two children (Ophelie Rousseau, Robin Goupil), even noticed her absence. Hurt and angry, Fiona begins to understand just how trapped and unhappy she's been, and like Richard Dreyfuss in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS who sees a mountain in a mound of mashed potatoes, she begins to feel the pull of something greater than herself beckoning from afar. Fiona finds a strange kind of comfort in returning to the walk-in freezer and soaking up the icy-cold air; in the middle of the night, she rises from her bed, opens her refrigerator freezer and shapes what looks like an iceberg out of ice. Then one afternoon while at work, without warning or much forethought, Fiona climbs inside a refrigerated delivery truck and leaves her unsatisfying life behind. She first winds up at the French fishing village of Barfleur, where she spots Rene (Philippe Martz), a deaf and mute sailor whom she convinces (with ice cream and her feminine charms) to take her north in his tiny, portentously named sailboat Le Titanique. Fiona knows what she must do: She must find the iceberg of her dreams. Julien, meanwhile, having come to his senses and now heartbroken by Fiona's abdication, sets off to find his wife.

Using very little dialogue and a lot of physical action, former circus performers Gordon, Abel and Martz take their cues from just about every silent comedy great, from Mack Sennett — there's a mad, fast-motion scramble in the cramped cabin of Rene's sailboat — and Buster Keaton — Gordon even bears a striking resemblance to the Great Stone Face. Meanwhile the film's deliberate color palette and tightly choreographed, perfectly timed sequences recall Jacques Tati. But there's an irreverent, off-center humor here that's distinctly their own and never more apparent than when the whole thing ultimately turns out to be not really the story of Fiona and her iceberg at all, but a tale told by an Inuit woman named Nattikuttuk (Lucy Tulugarjuk) about how she met her husband. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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