Meet Me in Montenegro is yet another movie about a failed writer with no money, in this case Anderson (co-director Alex Holdridge), who miraculously manages to do whatever he pleases, whether it’s traveling to Berlin for a script meeting or following the Beautiful Girl Who Gets Him, Lina (co-director Linnea Saasen), to the titular country for waterside canoodling. A failure to even flippantly acknowledge the traps of debt-ridden poverty, while making a pretense of exploring the social uncertainty of a generation that’s shackled by the same, leads to a reveling in disingenuous, self-absorbed wish-fulfillment that’s entirely devoid of any actual dramatic tension. Films like Meet Me in Montenegro and the recent In Stereo scan less as narratives than as the daydreams their writers entertain while racking their brains for a potentially lucrative story. These films reveal the fantasy of the Great Artist Who Must Self-Actualize, as mythically typified by people like Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer, to be alive, well, and crippling the imagination of a great many mostly white, male creatives.
Holdridge and Saasen’s film isn’t as smarmy as In Stereo or many other self-consciously bohemian meet-cute tales, though that’s barely an improvement. The “sensitive dude” cliché that Anderson embodies is worse, certainly more insidiously self-serving, than the stereotype of the macho brah forever on the hunt for the next mark on his figurative bedpost. Anderson’s no less in love with himself than the photographer protagonist of In Stereo (he’s blind, for instance, to the pain of a friend in Germany who’s clearly going through a bad spell with his girlfriend, or to the misery of the homeless people in the streets that are occasionally utilized by the filmmakers as window-dressing), but he’s more calculatedly aware of his own wounded-ness, positioning himself as a special wilted flower with a long gestating screenplay about feelings. After spending 90 minutes with Anderson, you won’t have any difficulty imagining why his script won’t sell, as it’s certainly about him and his observational banalities on pains that people with real problems accept as a given.
We’re long overdue for a movie about struggling writers that acknowledges facets of that life which exist apart from this film’s typical, convenient fantasies of enacting Sleepless in Seattle writ fashionably global: endless stasis, uncertainty, real failure, cultural estrangement, and actual loneliness, rather than the faux kind that’s defined by flings with beautiful people reliably every six months. Surely, there are other writers watching films like Meet Me in Montenegro thinking: “Fuck this.”