Bokeh (2017) (a film review by Mark R. Leeper).

March 27, 2017 | By | Reply More

Bringing up memories of the more engaging ‘The Quiet Earth’ (1985), ‘Bokeh’ concerns a young (American?) couple, Jenai and Riley, vacationing in Iceland when nearly everybody in the world mysteriously disappears. The two people are the inheritors of Iceland with its beautiful natural scenery and without any Icelanders anywhere. In fact, they are without any other humans to be found. Jenai and Riley struggle to make sense of what has happened to them. The team of Andrew Sullivan and Geoffrey Orthwein write and direct an enigmatic film about the apparent end of most of the world.

Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10.

A young couple, Jenai and Riley (played by Maika Monroe and Matt O’Leary) goes to Iceland for the spectacular scenery. The first night Jenai wakes up at 3:24 in the morning. She admires the scenery out her hotel window, lit by the very early morning sun. There is a strange flash of white light. She goes back to sleep. When she wakes up in the morning all is very quiet. She and Reilly go down to breakfast and find it has not been laid. In fact, there is nobody to serve them. They go out on the street and find it totally empty. At least, if there were corpses lying around, it would explain what happened to everyone but all others have been removed without a trace. Whatever happened was targeted at humans. We see cats and horses and hear birds and they seem not distressed. One wonders how pets were or will be faring.

With nobody left, Jenai and Riley find nothing to keep them in this town and with the world outside being theirs for the taking, they go out on a journey. They want to find answers and along the way to appreciate the natural beauty of Iceland and to look for more humans along the way. The film serves as both a Science Fiction film and a travelogue to show off Iceland as a tourist destination of rare beauty. The film is more successful in the latter pursuit. The scenery becomes of greater interest and even perhaps more of a character than the two principal leads.

While at the start of the film the two come off as vacuous tourists, the travel broadens them. Riley is an empiricist who is looking for physical answers for what has happened. Jenai’s mind is more spiritual and poetic. She feels the apocalypse has brought her closer to God or, she wonders, has God forsaken them. God remains silent. This does not mean that the two cannot take time off now and then to clown around or go skinny-dipping and that might be a welcome relief for the viewer. Much of the film is taken up with chit-chat. It is mostly just a look at two people in an intolerable situation.

Never explained is the fact that there are systems that require human maintenance and without them cities would start breaking down. There is no acknowledgement in the story that things are starting to go away beyond the faucet water stopping. In fact, answers seem impossible to get from the story.

The viewer should not expect all questions will be answered by the end of the story. We are never even told what ‘bokeh’ is. Wikipedia defines it, ‘in photography, bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. This is a film for the patient and that patience goes largely unrewarded. I rate it a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

Mark R. Leeper

© Mark R. Leeper 2017

Category: Films, MEDIA, Scifi

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