“Riley, this is
starting to freak me out.
I know, I don't get it at all.”
What if you wake up one day and realize that you are the only person walking on this earth? That's what Jenai (Maika Monroe) and Riley (Matt O'Leary) experience when they spend their holidays in Iceland. Initially they behave like perfectly normal tourists. Admiring the natural beauty of Iceland while Riley takes pictures of it, with his old-fashioned-looking camera. The day they find out they are completely alone, it's the start of a fascinating journey on the one hand. But on the other hand it's also a disappointing story in which they undergo a range of human reactions. First they experience a confused and panicky mood in which they anxiously try to understand what's going on. There's no immediate, plausible explanation for the sudden disappearance of the population. No dead bodies or signs of destruction. No coverage of the phenomenon since all news channels are offline. No posts on news sites or e-mails. Human existence is abruptly ended somehow.
Then they switch to an euphoric mood, realizing that they can get anything they desire and have the place to themselves. They can pick out any of the abandoned cars and choose the house they like the most. After that, they start realizing they really are on their own and certain situations could be life threatening. The result. Irritation, self-pity, and frictions between the two survivors. Especially Jenai falls into melancholic moods. Most of all, she wants to return home. There's only one problem. They are stuck on this deserted island. She also struggles with the "Why?" question concerning their situation and whether all this has to do with a divine destiny. Riley however, sees this as a fresh start for humanity. An opportunity to build a new civilization with the two of them. It still looks like a tourist trip to him and he wants to make lots of pictures of picturesque places as possible.
I admit my thoughts always strayed to the key question "What would I do in the exact situation?". Try and find my dreamcar? Choose my dream house and plunder a local electronics store so I can equip myself with the latest gadgets? Total freedom. Indulging myself in everything I desire, without worrying about the price tag. A dream come true. I admit. Watching a movie is also a bit of putting yourself into a fictional situation. The only thing is, it shouldn't be in such a way that you lose the complete attention. And that's exactly what happened to me, while watching "Bokeh".
Perhaps the biggest flaw of the film is the limited content. There isn't much interesting happening. Most of the film is filled with stunning snapshots accompanied by minimalistic piano sounds. If you've never been to Iceland and you can't imagine what it looks like, you'll certainly have a pretty good idea after seeing this film. It seemed as if "Bokeh" was sponsored by the Iceland tourist offices. Beautiful images of nature, full of glaciers, geysers and flower fields. No hurdles of zombies. No terrifying aliens who started an invasion to claim the resources of the earth. Ultimately, the film offers no explanation about the cause of it all. Like Riley and Jenai you'll still be groping the dark about this.
The only thing I was wondering is where the film title actually came from. Initially I thought it was an Icelandic expression. Turns out, according to Wikipedia, it's a term used in photography. The description is as follows: "The aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens". Now you can ask yourself what this is related to. Is it the way Riley makes his pictures? Or is it about the hazy content of the film? Another unanswered question.