Fact meets fiction in the personal, intimate and hilarious (semi) true love story, Meet Me In Montenegro.
Review by Alan Laidlaw at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Love can’t possibly be forever, can it?
That’s the central preoccupation which plagues the neurotic characters in directing duo Alex Holdridge and Linnea Saasen’s enchanting and humorous fictional ode to their real-life love story.
Jumping between past and present and switching locations between L.A, Berlin Montenegro and London, the film follows Anderson (Holdridge) a once successful filmmaker, whose life and work is constantly arrested by the recurring and fleeting presence of the charming and enigmatic Norwegian dancer Lina.
Two years on from having been ditched unexpectedly without explanation on a beach in Montenegro, Anderson runs into Lina in Berlin, and as they catch up on old times – awkward questions and all – their romance begins to blossom once again.
Alex Holdridge proved with his debut feature – the wonderful and dream-like mood piece In Search For A Midnight Kiss – that he carries with him a natural flair for capturing cities in a beautiful way; making them seem inextricably attached to the characters who inhibit them.
With Meet Me In Montenegro, he and Saasen take this even further: making location shifts appear to flow with fluidly, as the creases of time and place are ironed out in an exemplary fashion – indicating a level of filmmaking maturity which makes A Midnight Kiss look like a mere prelude in comparison.
There’s an irrefutable sense of two worlds coming together in this film: at times apparent that Anderson has abandoned a fictional guise and is replaced with Holdridge himself.
The fascinating thing about the whole pseudo-documentary feel is that, as a director and writer, Holdridge has no problems exposing to the audience his personal and creative anxieties as he deals with the formal contracts of social situations in an entirely inept, yet endearingly sincere manner. It’s guts on the floor cinema, and all the better for it.
The film, in addition to being a rather astute study of the directorial process, manages to be hilariously witty and self-deprecating in a way which inevitable recalls the works of Woody Allen. But Holdridge is a different filmmaker, making broader – often more imprecise strokes with his humour and observations – as we see him running down the street, half dressed looking for one single condom, while the narrator (Anderson himself) declares “who’d of thought I’d be a horny atheist who’s under the belief that God’s will is against me getting laid”.
It’s this sort of deft, near inspired comedy of a man on the edge of a breakdown that makes Holdridge such a precarious talent – and one who’s beginning to stand out against the crowd of miserable-loner-mumblecoreing minds.
Meet Me in Montenegro is a film which reminds you of that overwhelming sensation of being in love, showing how memories repeat themselves like washed out Polaroids flickering in the farthest reaches of the mind. There’s one particular memory which is repeated, as the lovers stand on the edge of a Mediterranean cliff with one willing to take the jump and the other looking nervously down at the blue-ish abyss below – and in that one moment Holdridge and Saasen, Anderson and Lina simultaneously captures the fear of loving and, in turn, asking to be loved.
Sometimes you just have to take that plunge; for better, or for worse.
And by making a film as poetic and personal as Meet Me in Montenegro, they both do – in a number of ways.