I got a chance to see Braden King’s film HERE at NYC’s IFC Center last night. The film, starring Ben Foster (The Messenger) and Lubna Azabal (Incendies), was shot on location in Armenia and beautifully captures the cross country travel and brief romance between the digital age American cartographer and the photographer returning to her country after time spent in Paris. Foster and Azabal have an easy, natural chemistry and the story is told in sequence through short, impressionistic episodes that are easy to get lost in. This might be what made King’s choice to use the most misguided and disruptive voice over since The Tree of Life so disappointing. Aside from that major misstep, there is alot to like in HERE. Many of us have experienced both the mind-clearing freedom of off-the-grid travel as well as the irrational draw of a short-lived overseas romance and King’s film handles both very well. You could read political subtext into the plotlines, and the film does flirt with it, but that isn’t HERE‘s strength. At heart, it deals with two people used to being independent to the point of exclusion, who on the surface should have very little in common, but find that rare connection that can seem perfect when compressed into a short period of time and given a pre-determined expiration date. I particularly admired King’s interest in mapping memories, with his closing scene adding some nice closure to the couple’s time together, and I was happy to discover it mirrored in the director’s own work space.  Although flawed,  the film had some enduring moments that couldn’t have been easy to capture and for me its strengths far outweighed its weaknesses. Recommended.

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