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June 10, 2017

Here

by Franz Patrick


Here (2011)
★ / ★★★★

Will (Ben Foster) works as cartographer in Armenia and there he meets Gadarine (Lubna Azabal) when she kindly helps him order an omelette. Her plan is to stay in her brother’s apartment but there is tension between them because she’s been away for so long. It is hinted that she is not the best in maintaining contact. So, she decides to come along with Will as he surveys the country. It is a mutualistic relationship: he gives her a free ride and she translates for him. Soon, they acknowledge their feelings for one another.

“Here,” written by Braden King and Dani Valent, suffers from elementary filmmaking. In its attempt to come across deep and contemplative, it is generous in utilizing seemingly interminable tracking shots of grass, trees, and mountains. But these images do not generate insight or thought. Instead, they come across static and desperate to impress. However, when it does focus on the story of the man and woman who happen to cross paths in their journey, it is romantic at times without sentimentality.

There is a lack of flow between scenes especially during the first and last fifteen minutes. As sort of mini-intermissions, we are hammered over the head with old film footages of the land and buildings. Sometimes there is a solemn narration (voiced by Peter Coyote) which leaves a poetic dirge in our taste buds. These tools do not fit the picture. They could have been taken out completely and it would have improved the material.

It does not spend enough time with Garadine’s parents (Yuri Kostanyan, Sophik Sarkisyan). One of Garadine’s traits is leaving without saying goodbye, being away for extended periods of time and, according to what is implied, not being very good at keeping in touch. There is a scene that takes place in the parents’ home that gives us a taste of the sadness and frustration of the family, emotions that are too often swept under the rug.

The father thinks that her daughter can be so much more than a photographer. He thinks taking pictures is not really an honorable job, not one that can make a difference in Armenia, not like her brother, Krikor (Narek Nersisyan), the solider. On the other hand, the mother misses Garadine so much that when her daughter comes for a quick visit, she cherishes their time and considers it to be a dream. I wanted to know more about her family. We could have known more about Garadine through them.

Foster and Nazarian’s chemistry is understated and enjoyable. They have a way of not saying much with their mouths but saying a lot with their eyes. And so when the film arrives to scenes involving seduction, what their characters share is believable. What we have here is a mature look at two people slowly feeling each other emotionally and physically. It understands the difference between sensuality and sexuality.

Although “Here,” Directed by Braden King, is not egregious, there is not enough great material to warrant a recommendation. It moves very slowly, which will challenge anyone’s patience, it uses art-house insularity to appear more clever than it is, which I found to be laughable and pretentious, and there is a deadness in a few scenes shared between the leads due to the writing. There is a difference among comfortable silence, awkward silence, and pointless silence. Comfortable is liberating, awkward can be amusing, and pointlessness wastes valuable time.

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