Review: Hinterland (2015)

Soppy but sweet self-discovery

Harry Macqueen’s debut film brings us a story about relationships and life. The film opens with soothing, mellow instrumental music as we see still images of a messy apartment. The life of a typical twenty something is laid before us. In a notebook, the name Lola is repetitively drawn on a page. A phone rings and we meet Harvey (Macqueen), a young man who is going to pick up his old friend Lola (Lori Campbell), who’s returned home for the first time in years due to family troubles for a weekend getaway. Lola is a free spirited girl who has an insatiable appetite for travelling. It’s clear from the moment that Harvey picks up Lola that they are very different people. Lola has a more outward, adventurous nature, whereas Harvey is more laid back and prefers to take everything in. Still, it is clear that their friendship is quickly rekindled despite the years spent apart.

As Harvey and Lola travel across the British countryside to spend the weekend in the oceanside home where they vacationed as children, we learn about their past and present troubles. The camera often positions us in the back seat of the car, making us feel as if we are part of Harvey and Lola’s road trip. We are treated to a variety of scenes in the country as the duo make their way to their destination. Over the course of their trip, the two slowly rebuild their connection, starting as friendly but awkward and safe conversations and evolving into more flirtatious, playful and meaningful ones. Their time together is rarely interrupted. Harvey takes one phone call the entire trip, allowing the two to focus on escaping their realities for a couple of days.

In the height of their trip, Harvey and Lola share some of their worst fears and admit to one another that they don’t really know how to remedy the stagnation they feel in their lives. Lola clearly feels threatened by the thought of having a long term relationship or being in any sort of place for too long. While Lola feels that staying in a single place, with a single person or doing anything that is otherwise considered conventional is suffocating, Harvey has a different viewpoint. Harvey simply looks at the world as something to enjoy no matter where they are; he argues that having someone to share the world with should be a blessing, not a hindrance. As the two open up, the tension between the two is palpable; it doesn’t feel cheap or forced. It’s hard not to ache for their connection to be solidified on a more romantic level.

The film concludes with uncertainty. While there is clearly a strong connection between Harvey and Lola, and while the two seem to strike a good balance together, there is something that holds them back from pursuing something outside of friendship. It appears that while Harvey has a good sense of himself; he isn’t sure if sharing his own views on life will help Lola see how wonderful the world can be.

The score in this film is fantastic. It’s methodic, soothing and easily lends to the almost haunted, unanswerable questions that are left for us to contemplate as the film ends. Combined with the close-up camera angles, honest conversations and minimal dialogue, the score leaves you feeling both soothed and uncomfortable, as if there is some deep desire you need to fulfill but can’t seem to identify.

At it’s heart, Hinterland is an intimate reminder that without the commonplace distractions of cell phones, social media, television, work and other responsibilities, we are able to truly connect with one another – to not only see, but experience the world in an honest and unrestricted nature. We learn that while our future may be uncertain, we will not find happiness if we are unwilling to take risks, to be true to ourselves and surround ourselves with those who keep us grounded and bring value to who we are.

Hinterlands is in cinemas and on demand 27 February.

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