The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines centigrade as “relating to, conforming to, or having a thermometric scale on which the interval between the freezing point of water and the boiling point of water is divided into 100 degrees with 0° representing the freezing point and 100° the boiling point 10°.”
So this definition made sense when I clicked on the link to watch the new IFC Midnight movie Centigrade, directed by Brendan Walsh, who is making his feature directorial debut after working previously on numerous television series such as Nurse Jackie. Water, mostly at its freezing point, takes center stage in the movie, starring Vincent Piazza (Jersey Boys) and Genesis Rodriguez (Man On A Ledge). The survival thriller takes place in the year 2002, when a young American couple, Matthew and Naomi, travel to the arctic mountains of Norway.
Naomi is eight months pregnant and very moody, being in Norway to promote her book tour with her husband Matt. Just prior to the start of the movie, the couple is said to be driving back to their hotel, when they decide to pull over during a bad ice storm/snowstorm. The movie starts as Naomi wakes up the next morning and quickly realizes that she and Matt are trapped in their SUV, buried underneath layers of snow and ice. Matt quickly assesses that they only have a minimal amount of food and water, with a small survival pack in the SUV trunk, consisting of several candles and matches. Naomi also has a cellphone, but it doesn’t pick up a signal and is almost out of battery.
Both Matt and Naomi do their best to stay calm, but they occasionally have arguments, mostly related to Naomi’s pregnancy and their decision to pull over the side of the road to ride out the storm. But as time goes on, they also argue about their strategy to get out and what the best way to survive their situation is. One time Naomi forgets to tightly put on the cap of their only water bottle and some of it spills out, unleashing an outburst from Matt which quickly deescalates as both realize there is nothing to be gained from their argument. As Naomi’s pregnancy quickly turns into a “giving birth while trapped inside an SUV” situation, Matt does his best to comfort her and make sure she is nourished and warm as much as possible, while also taking a toll on his own personal well-being.
While I am not going to spoil what happens in this survival thriller, Centigrade does lead its audience to a logical outcome, while also briefly showing us some of the beautiful winter countryside and snow-covered mountains in Norway. Having been inspired by real events, the movie does pretty much rely on its two actors Vincent Piazza and Genesis Rodriguez to carry the movie, with the latter also responsible for the pregnancy/childbirth. Both do their best to showcase the strife and struggle to maintain composure while not completely freaking out by their unimaginable situation. The actors both seemed believable and fragile in their own way. The dialogue might not have had much going for it but it made sense for what they were experiencing. Director Brendan Walsh and Director of Photography Seamus Tierney both do a nice job making the audience feel trapped inside the SUV with Matt and Naomi.
Overall, Centigrade is a well-made survival thriller, but it doesn’t go much beyond that. Sometimes I felt as I was trapped myself, watching the couple argue for days inside the SUV. Having lived through many Minnesota snowstorms myself and very bad winter weather, I can relate to their predicament as when it’s safe to drive though a winter storm and when it’s not. That’s why it’s so important to have winter survival gear in your car for emergencies. As far as the movie’s ending, I would say that it goes as well as one could have predicted. So, I was satisfied that the movie didn’t take any strange or unnecessary twist and turns.
– Review by Vitali Gueron
Have you seen CENTIGRADE? Well, what did you think?