So, you’re at a party on a beautiful spring evening. The sun is setting, casting lovely muted light and you’re caught up in conversation with an exciting stranger. Initially, you feel enthralled by their enthusiasm with this topic; they have so many fun and insightful things to say… But, you start to realize they’re just a little bit too drunk and when you try to ask probing questions, they’re ignored. This person is actually just talking in circles. You’re looking for a way out of this interaction but you can’t get a word in edgewise. Way too much time passes before you’re able to pry yourself away for another glass of wine and you remember why you sometimes feel anxiety before going out to social events.
This little awkward story could just as easily act as an apt summary of “Blueberry Soup,” a documentary shown this Thursday as part of NW Film Center’s NW Tracking series. Okay, maybe that’s unkind. After all, this spunky little documentary has a lot of good qualities. The film focuses on direct, personal interviews with Icelandic citizens regarding the economic collapse and hopeful political redemption of this small, picturesque and quirky little country. Enchanting, right? Yes, most definitely for the first half hour. At that point, we’ve established the fact that folks in Iceland like to get together to discuss human rights issues and feel personally responsible for their political destiny. However, we’ve also been given little to no background information to help us (the viewer) better understand Iceland’s current financial position or even why they are rewriting their constitution.
The cinematography (mostly epic scenes of wide-open Nordic landscape) is dripping with sweet and solid splendor. Finding out about the ubiquitous and informal political social meetings known as “sewing circles” is cool. Listening to artists, musicians, lawyers and intellectuals discuss the need to focus less on dirty lucre and more on strengthening inner values is also pretty cool. Yet, all of this only goes so far.
Tell me about the conditions that led to the economic depression. Who was the former prime minister? What are the foundations of the political party currently holding power and what measures are they most criticized for? What does a healthy economic and socially just future actually look like to the populace of Iceland? These are questions that need more attention to complete the documentary.
The evening wanes and you grow hungry. Maybe you had a little too much to drink as well and feel a bit light-headed. You need a hearty meal full of protein and green leafy vegetables. Instead, the host pours another bowl of the only dish they prepared: blueberry soup.