Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Autumn Lights: Love and Depression in Iceland
Iceland gets over a quarter of its
electricity from geothermal plants, so you might think it would be the perfect
setting for a steamy, hothouse mystery. It still might be so, assuming future
filmmakers do not forget to include the mystery part. Viewers will have to make
do with the angst and sex of Angad Aulakh’s Autumn
which opens this Friday in New York.
David planned to spend the summer with his
lover Eva, while he worked on a nature photography assignment on a remote
Icelandic island, but she threw a spanner in the works by dumping him. To make
things even more depressing, he finds an apparent suicide victim while walking
on the beach the next day. Now he won’t be able to leave until the fussbudget local
cops finish their investigation. However, this does not seem so depressing when
he meets Marie, the hot-blooded Italian wife of the painfully Nordic Jóhann.
For a while, David concentrates on Marie’s
super-blonde Icelandic BFF Liv, but he knows Marie is compulsively inclined
towards infidelity. When they finally give into temptation, he starts getting
rather possessive, which is downright tacky under the circumstances.
Poor old Jóhann happens to be a hunter. In
terms of narrative, this is a rather inconsequential detail, but it allows
Aulakh to shoot enough scenes of him holding a rifle to make the trailer look
deceptively thrillerish. Honestly, by the time the film loops back around to
the suicide investigation, it has become a completely anticlimactic tangent.
Instead, we get to watch David walk
through a veritable land of ECM record jackets, brooding and taking pictures. It
may very well be largely a function of the film’s Ikea ambience, but Guy Kent
(resembling a poor man’s Eric Balfour) just doesn’t connect as David. Lusty and
impish, Marta Gastini at least makes an impression as Marie. Frankly, Sveinn Ólafur
Gunnarsson deserves mucho credit for almost redeeming the film with his
slow-burning, tightly-controlled turn as Jóhann—almost, but not quite.
A film this sexually preoccupied should never be
so deathly dull. Iceland’s coastline looks pristine and invigorating, but Aulakh’s
script is muddled and tired. Safely skippable, Autumn Lights opens
tomorrow (10/21) in New York, at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Marta Gastini