Film Review: I Send You This Place

Navel-gazing at its most cinematically self-indulgent, and an utter waste of a gorgeous location.

If you ever are fortunate enough to visit Iceland, the word’s “God’s country” or “This looks like the beginning of time” may very well cross your mind, so awesomely impressive are its sweepingly clean, untouched vistas of sea, sky, rock and ice. Similar sentiments obviously struck Andrea Sissons and Peter Ohs, the directors (and everything else, from cinematography and editing to music and production design) of I Send You This Place, and there are indeed a surfeit of absolutely breathtaking landscape shots. Unfortunately, what we are dealing with here is a film, not a photo album, and, dramatically, their project decidedly falls short.

The very slim plot has Andrea leaving Ohio for Iceland with her husband and fellow filmmaker Peter. The two find themselves dealing with glaciers galore, natives who converse with mountains, and a full 24 hours of daylight (in the summer) and darkness (winter). This singular environ causes Andrea to ruminate deeply about Big Subjects like sanity, perception and the conflicting natures of creativity and conformity. Everything seems so different and slightly bizarre that, suddenly, her own ADD condition and memories of a schizophrenic brother, Jacob, don’t seem quite so eccentric.

The film is a maddeningly internalized rumination by the characters, consisting mostly of numbing voiceovers over the aforementioned scenic views. The very, very patient may find it rewarding, but this viewer found it frankly excruciating, self-indulgent, irritating and completely uninvolving. It’s full of fey conceits like titles writ large over the screen (i.e., “A Wonderful Place of Space”). An aridly droning piano accompanies much of it.

Against the stark white, icy background, the presence of variously colored doors is striking, but leave it to the filmmakers to pound this observation into the ground with lengthy nattering about their shape and color, plus deep thoughts like “All these doors represent different possibilities.” Throughout, Andrea tries hard to engage you, at one point performing a meant-to-be winningly adorable little impromptu jig. Even this she muffs, falling on her ass, in one of the film’s few moments of pleasure.