• Review: Bokeh (2017)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Mon Mar 27 17:50:04 2017
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: Bringing up memories of the more engaging THE
    QUIET EARTH (1985), this film concerns a young
    (American?) couple Jenai and Riley, vacationing in
    Iceland when nearly everybody in the world mysteriously
    disappears. The two people are the inheritors of
    Iceland with its beautiful natural scenery and without
    any Icelanders anywhere. In fact, they are without any
    other humans to be found. Jenai and Riley struggle to
    make sense of what has happened to them. The team of
    Andrew Sullivan and Geoffrey Orthwein write and direct
    an enigmatic film about the apparent end of most of the
    world. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

    A young couple, Jenai and Riley (played by Maika Monroe and Matt
    O'Leary) goes to Iceland for the spectacular scenery. The first
    night Jenai wakes up at 3:24 in the morning. She admires the
    scenery out her hotel window, lit by the very early morning sun.
    There is a strange flash of white light. She goes back to sleep.
    When she wakes up in the morning all is very quiet. She and Reilly
    go down to breakfast and find it has not been laid. In fact there
    is nobody to serve them. They go out on the street and find it
    totally empty. At least if there were corpses lying around, it
    would explain what happened to everyone. But all others have been
    removed without a trace. Whatever happened was targeted at humans.
    We see cats and horses and hear birds, and they seem not
    distressed. One wonders how pets were or will be faring.

    With nobody left Jenai and Riley find nothing to keep them in this
    town and with the world outside being theirs for the taking, they
    go out on a journey. They want to find answers and along the way
    to appreciate the natural beauty of Iceland and to look for more
    humans along the way. The film serves as both a science fiction
    film and a travelogue to show off Iceland as a tourist destination
    of rare beauty. The film is more successful in the latter pursuit.
    The scenery becomes of greater interest and even perhaps more of a
    character than the two principal leads.

    While at the start of the film the two come off as vacuous
    tourists, the travel broadens them. Riley is an empiricist who is
    looking for physical answers for what has happened. Jenai's mind
    is more spiritual and poetic. She feels the apocalypse has brought
    her closer to God. Or, she wonders, has God forsaken them. God
    remains silent. This does not mean that the two cannot take time
    off now and then to clown around or go skinny-dipping, and that
    might be a welcome relief for the viewer. Much of the film is
    taken up with chit-chat. It is mostly just a look at two people in
    an intolerable situation.

    Never explained is the fact that there are systems that require
    human maintenance and without them cities would start breaking
    down. There is no acknowledgement in the story that things are
    starting to go away beyond the faucet water stopping. In fact,
    answers seem impossible to get from the story.

    The viewer should not expect all questions will be answered by the
    end of the story. We are never even told what Bokeh is.
    (Wikipedia defines it, "In photography, bokeh is the aesthetic
    quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image
    produced by a lens.") This is a film for the patient and that
    patience goes largely unrewarded. I rate it a low +1 on the -4 to
    +4 scale or 5/10. BOKEH will go into limited release on March 24.

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    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper

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