Autumn Lights movie full length review - Bold Choices for a Foreign Film in English with Beautiful Acting, Cinematography & Direction
To begin, I was surprised by 'Autumn Light's Rotten Tomatoes score. This movie is interesting, well-made and well-acted.
To start, this is a tiny story. Did I say tiny? It's about unique, struggling individuals intersecting during a somewhat tragic time. I loved the interesting choices in direction, music and how understated the performances were, which ultimately was what kept my attention for a story with a very little arc. The writing could have been a little more colorful, however, the discipline in the overall execution makes that entirely irrelevant to me.
The film starts out with a death, and while this was shot with a very cold, emotional distance, it's an event that catalyzes the entire film and brings the American drifter of David into this strange world in the film. Played by Guy Kent, David is withdrawn, pained, emotionally-winded, and wise. It's an outstanding performance of subtle touches that feels just as melancholy as the movie is. Now that David must stick around in Iceland after coming across a dead body on the beach, he meets the equally melancholy Marie (played by Marta Gastini) and Johan (played by Svein Olafur Gunnarsson). These two feel like a colder version of Adams Family. It's an interesting choice that made me uncomfortable just like David. David is invited to one of their dinner parties, and there's a lack of comfort he feels that I, too, felt. You felt like David and you related to him. The ability to do that as a filmmaker shows the director has chops. David is essentially us, the viewer.
Now that David has met Johan and Marie, he begins to fall into the drama in their lives and he ultimately gets mixed up in their secrets and lies. It's a story that really revolves around these three characters, and more so around Marie and David. While character development is slow, the actors bring a richness to the screen that get you interested.
The nudity was a strong choice, for lack of a better word. While that felt entirely unnecessary since it did nothing for the characters and the film other than show nudity, it didn't make me dislike the film by any means.
The score felt a little too close to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, however, it was very well placed and it varied from beautiful chorals to dark synths. It felt very original though, unlike lush Hollywood scores.
My bottom line, as a film, there's comfort to be found. These characters feel relatable, real, and they talk about life in a way we can all understand. There is truth about life, love, and how we relate to one another. I give it 8/10, but for its boldness, 9/10.