Will (Ben Foster) — a lone-wolf American cartographer on a contract to collect data on the ground to match to satellite maps in Armenia's rural, disputed Eastern territory — is bailed out of a lost-in-translation situation by beautiful, feisty, Armenian-born/Paris-schooled photographer Gadarine (Lubna Azabak). Soon the attractive pair hit the road together, both armed with tools — her camera, his satellite-enabled measurement whatsits — to map the land according to their respective instincts.
At more than two hours, Braden King's languid, vignette-driven road movie moves slowly and deliberately — all the better to invoke the disorientation of characters who are venturing off the grid, both geographically and emotionally, their perspective skewed by booze and new lust. The drama is occasionally interrupted by saturated, Brakhage-esque montages, set to a narration (in what sounds like Peter Coyote's voice, although he's uncredited) that aims to poetically evoke the film's key themes — namely, the blinkered romance of travel, the impulse to capture the ineffable in tangible forms, the conflict between “ground truth” and authentic experience. The dreamy, feverish beauty of these sequences just barely balances out the pretension of the exposition.
The film falters the further it drifts from that overheated, slightly delusional mood; the more precisely it's scripted, the less it feels true. (In a relationship-spat scene, the lovers basically shout “We're from different worlds!” at each other for five minutes.) But the actors have incredible physical chemistry, and Here can be captivating when King sticks to exploring the conquering instinct — over land, in love — by setting their budding relationship against the unknowable landscape and allowing the imagery to speak for itself. —Karina Longworth (Music Hall, Town Center)