Director: Braden King
Starring: Ben Foster, Lubna Azabal
The Film: I will give my honest opinion right now- despite it’s good intentions, this movie bored me. I didn’t find it particularly poignant or memorable and in the end, I found myself wondering what went astray in me that I didn’t enjoy this movie as much as I wanted to. Before I get censured by the compulsive indie and art-house crowds, let me focus on the positives.
Although it’s a done-over premise; guy meets girl, girl and guy embark on a short yet intensely passionate bond, it is not always a rule of thumb to make sure the journey goes as many others of it’s ilk do and “Here” manages to incorporate a few fresh if not wholly original features thanks to director King and his crew. Will Shepard (Ben Foster) is an American cartographer tasked with completing a geographic survey of Armenia only to meet Gadarine (Lubna Azabal), an ex-pat and professional photographer where they explore and observe the sprawling Gadarine’s homeland as well as each other during a whirlwind relationship. To overlook the epic landscape of Armenia would be criminal and thankfully, the cinematographer to this movie indulges our senses in that regard- this is an incredible looking movie where the audience can truly appreciate a part of the world they have not yet been. The colours, the composition and the framing are beautiful to behold from the comfort of your chair that you feel like you are in this land alongside Will and Gadarine.
Ben Foster is a consistent young actor and if given the right script and wise direction, he can be a joy to watch, Hell, even in films that may be below critical par, he always lends his own unique quality to them that you can’t take your eyes off him. Azabal is a virtual unknown to me and I have not seen any of her work whatsoever, but clearly this young woman has substantial skills as an actor, plus she has such a fascinating look to her that it would be difficult to forget her in a sea of Hollywood-standard sex bunnies. I hope I get to see more of her work because I feel she has a future.
However, therein lies the first major flaw in this movie- as much as I enjoy Foster and as much as I appreciate Azabal’s work, they don’t possess the necessary chemistry in a scene together. Oh, they try and bless them for doing so, but every look they exchange, every sentence, every gesture they share feels slightly forced and I just couldn’t buy these two people sharing a passionate, if somewhat impulsive bond. When you make a movie that involves two human beings in a close relationship, be it romantic, platonic or familial, you need your players to work off each other fluently because that connection is needed for the audience to be on their side and want to follow them on this emotional adventure, without it, there is no point of having the characters interact with each other at all. I found myself not caring about Will and Gadarine’s experiences in the end which made me sad- I wanted to feel for them, I wanted to feel that warmth they were supposed to have, but I never felt it in my heart.
Additionally, the movie itself feels like it is moving at a snail’s pace. I don’t mind long movies at all, as long as they tell their stories in a timely and consistent manner. I found my eyes wandering to my clock quite a few times and feeling a little restless as time went on. By the time the movie finished, I found myself thinking a lot of that could have been condensed into a film that had a shorter run time. I’m not a film student by any means so please don’t interpret my opinion as an educated one, but the way I liken the film’s run-time is to that of a pillow- you can fluff it up for as much as you please, but in the end, it will eventually get flat without the proper support.
“Here” is not a terrible movie, I didn’t find myself being repulsed or incredulous of it’s existence, but it’s hardly what I would consider a memorable one. There are a few things to admire and to be thankful for, and it won’t leave a stain on the resume of anybody involved, but as a complete being, I felt a more appropriate title for this movie would have been “Where?” because that’s what the movie seemed to be saying to itself.
The Australian DVD
An exclusive Australian interview with the director Brayden King who offers a general but still pleasant conversation regarding his film.
Review written by Bea Harper
Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.