Review: Iceland-set mystery ‘Autumn Lights’ comes up empty

Guy Kent in the movie "Autumn Lights."
(Freestyle Digital Media)

Mistaking moody poses for storytelling, the Iceland-set “Autumn Lights” gathers an international assortment of insufferable ciphers in a remote coastal town. American writer-director Angad Aulakh tries to agitate the pensive set-up with sex and a supposed mystery that never raises the pulse. The Bergman-esque posturing falls so far short of the Swedish master that it wouldn’t even qualify as accidental parody.

Aulakh’s first feature stars Guy Kent as David, an American photographer whose girlfriend leaves him, and their rented cabin, as the story opens. His plans to vacate the striking setting of their intended idyll are put on hold after he discovers a woman’s body on the beach, an apparent suicide, and the local detective asks him to stick around until the investigation is complete. That allows David time to hear the cop’s self-consciously existential musings, as well as the mind-numbing ruminations that pass for party chatter at the stylish home of neighbors Marie (Marta Gastini) and Jóhann (Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson).

She’s Italian, broody and unfaithful to her Icelandic husband, who conveniently departs to visit a dying friend. It would be hard to care less about the various couplings that ensue. The elegance of the film’s score and design elements, and the fine gray light of its midnight-sun locale, can’t begin to make anything matter in a story where suicide has all the emotional impact of a badly corked Barolo.



‘Autumn Lights’

In English, Italian and Icelandic with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes


Playing: Laemmle’s Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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