Eternal love: It’s on the minds of filmmakers everywhere, or so you might conclude by randomly sampling indie films from the past decade.
This includes writers/directors Alex Holdridge and Linnea Saasen; lovers in real life, they portray fictionalized paramours in their film Meet Me in Montenegro. During extended, winding, nighttime walks through the faintly illuminated streets of Berlin, their characters, Anderson and Lina, attempt to rekindle a relationship years after she abruptly ended it. The devastated Anderson had sealed off his “juvenile” optimism about love, confident that he could reunite with Lina and keep his emotions at bay.
All of the standard clichés of indie romances — the quirky artist girl, anxiety-ridden guy, overwritten narration, and colorful montages of a couple wandering through far-flung locales — are at the bedrock of Meet Me in Montenegro. An overlong and unrelated subplot between Anderson’s friend Stephen and his polygamous lover, Friederike, proves hugely distracting. Meanwhile, the filmmakers have made Anderson a screenwriter, which allows them to joke about their own adherence to genre formula; characters verbalize that the story’s ending is directly out of a cheesy romance. That fixes nothing — a self-aware, cheesy romance remains a cheesy romance!
Still, the quiet honesty of Anderson and Lina’s interactions and raw, often handheld camerawork wash away the film’s meandering pace and sometimes grating dialogue. With so many films focusing on the doomed inevitability or puppy-dog adoption of love, there is a novelty to Anderson and Lina’s story of melting cynicism and eventual embrace of their affections for each other, particularly when set against the always stunning Berlin.
Meet Me in Montenegro
Written and directed by Linnea Saasen and Alex Holdridge
Opens July 10, Cinema Village
Available on demand