JDIFF Review – Meet Me in Montenegro

While travelling to Berlin to meet the potential star of his latest film, Anderson (Alex Holdridge) deliberately seeks out Lina (Linnea Saasen), a woman he had a holiday romance with several years before, a romance that was abruptly cut short in Montenegro. As the two reconnect, it seems there is a time limit on their new found relationship, until both are forced to choose between what they have worked for, and what they truly want in their lives.

It is rare for a romantic comedy to be truly romantic and truly funny, but Meet Me in Montenegro is one of those rare films that is warm and sweet, while being genuinely funny and without the feeling of contrivance. Alex Holdridge, as Anderson, makes the man a hopeless romantic with a broken heart – along the lines of Rob in High Fidelty, but a lot less destructive – and his voiceover holds the film together. Linnea Saasen, as Lina, is perhaps a little too much of the stereotypical manic pixie dream girl, but she allows the character to live up to the hype, making her engaging, sweet and fun. Rupert Friend is on wonderfully comic form as Stephen, a man in a long term relationship who has some frank conversations with cats, and Jennifer Ulrich rounds out the cast as Stephen’s girlfriend Friederike who is trying to push their sexual limits, as a couple.

The story is one that we have seen on screen before, but there is a warmth to this familiarity, and in allowing this story to be told through a male character’s eyes. Linnea Saasen and Alex Holdridge’s screenplay is fun and sweet when it needs to be, while feeling refreshingly honest in a way that allows the audience to see themselves in the situations on screen. Some plot points are worked out better than others, but the screenplay draws genuine laughs from the audience.

As directors, Linnea Saasen and Alex Holdridge allow Anderson and Lina to take centre stage, displaying their issues and anger, as well as their love and joy. The film is interspersed with voice over and drawings that seem to break it into chapters, and the pacing is kept moving at a steady speed throughout, although there are times when, in moving the focus to Stephen and Friederike, that the film slows down.

In all, Meet Me in Montenegro is a rare thing; a rom-com that combines both romance and comedy to make a sweet and warm film that feels honest and relatable. There are times when the pacing meanders, but there are lots of cute cats, for those who like that sort of thing.

Rating: 4/5

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