Cinema Reviews

Hinterland Review


If I had one line to review HINTERLAND it would be: this film is precious. The independent film community is undoubtedly already aware of this but for those of you who would like a little more detail, here goes.

Harry Macqueen’s directorial debut tells the story of Harvey (Macqueen, who also wrote and produced) and Lola (musician Lori Campbell in her acting debut) as they take a weekend road-trip to Devon where they spent much of their youth together. HINTERLAND’s wonderful pair of protagonists must seem familiar to many viewers: both in their twenties, they are at a point of transition in their lives at which nothing seems certain and little makes sense. Their weekend together is both wistful return to the familiar places of their youth and getaway – a small holiday from the big city, from technology, from the rush and the uncertainties of every-day life in a country whose economic and political future itself is uncertain.

And it feels like a mini-holiday too. Combining stunning footage of the British sea and countryside with a beautiful soundtrack, HINTERLAND takes its time exploring, experimenting, watching and considering. A lot of the camerawork is still and observant, giving the film a calm and meditative feel. As a result, much of the imagery is like a series of still photographs, similar to the ones Lola takes with her disposable camera of things that the travellers notice but which would otherwise remain unseen. They contrast the wide, moving shots of the road-trip itself – an obvious parallel to the characters’ own, more personal journeys and the development of their unique relationship.

The performances are remarkable. Macqueen and Campbell beautifully convey the transition from the initial awkwardness between two friends who have been out of touch for a while to their recovery of intimacy and trust. Macqueen excels at bringing across a wide range of emotions in very few words. Harvey’s emotions are at the same time subtle and obvious enough to make the stakes completely clear, so that his decisions about what to say and not to say are perfectly relatable. And it is very much the things that remain so obviously unsaid between the characters that make HINTERLAND compelling and deeply moving.

What is perhaps most remarkable about this film is its softness: rather than to confront viewers with the stark realism of the everyday, with problems and difficulties to which there are no solutions, it is a break from that. It takes a sympathetic look at a familiar dilemma, suggesting that – while the comforting Hinterland of the sea and countryside has to be left behind after a weekend away – people will not be stuck in their own hinterlands of uncertainty and doubt forever.

Shot in 14 days with a budget of £10,000, a cast and crew of six, HINTERLAND is a remarkable accomplishment and certainly one of the secret gems of the year. Do not miss it.

Anne Korn

HINTERLAND is in cinemas 27 February.

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