Set against Iceland's dramatic landscape, Autumn Lights is a story of morality, virtue, and relationships as seen through the eyes of a foreigner in a strange land. The story follows David, an introverted American photographer adrift in remote Iceland while on assignment. When he gets caught in a local investigation after discovering a deserted body washed ashore, David is temporarily bound to a place he doesn't call home and he acquaints himself with the few inhabitants in the area, among them Marie, an Italian woman whose shiftiness betrays not only her beautiful face but her Icelandic husband Jóhann and his own unruffled demeanor. As days pass, David's fascination with the couple intensifies and he slowly begins to find himself entangled in their mysterious lives.Written by
As a first review and as a fan of small, foreign films, I happened to stumble upon this title when it was being advertised as playing in Los Angeles & New York. But to my surprise, the title was available on VOD and after watching the intriguing trailer, I gave it a whirl with my husband. I was very moved by this movie. It was unexpected. And I unexpectedly am now writing a review.
To start, the craftsmanship is superb. The music, the cinematography, the strong performances and the direction were not formulaic and expected. It's a film of bold choices and it felt very original. I applaud the director and writer of the film Angad Aulakh for creating something so different... Massive superhero fatigue in this household.
Now the story... it's a small story. It's conversation-driven. It's not about A to B to C, it's about learning who these intricate characters are and it's a dance between them and how their interactions with one another reward (or the opposite) their lives. My husband and I were engrossed by the heart and soul of these characters. They were wise, astute, interesting people who carry immense pain with them. This is not some hot-button, socially-relevant film but why does every film need to be that nowadays? It was lovely to watch a movie about characters who feel very real and lived in and didn't have to be politically or socially charged.
Now Iceland, if you've ever been like I have, you'll know the spectacular beauty. The cinematography just enhances it. But I love that it's not a travelogue film that uses Iceland as a tourist film would. It's just a setting. And it's cold and barren and is an interesting location to set these characters in.
Ms. Gastini, who was beautiful in Borgia, is splendid as Marie. She's complex and highly-watchable. I was very moved by her character's storyline and emotional dilemmas, as she delves in with the film's David, played by the handsome young actor Guy Kent. He, too, is beautiful and touching in the role. There's subtly to his emotions, his melancholy, his lust, and he feels like a real man from a different generation. As they say in the film, "there's more to him than he lets on, and I find that attractive." Well, so do I. The character of David is interesting and unexpected and was filled by an actor who I enjoyed watching and entering into this world with.
My husband and I discussed the film at length afterward. If you like films that provoke conversation, make you look at your own life and your choices, and inspires you by the artistry, this is a film for you. It's a wonderful movie. I highly, highly recommend this title.
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