Eye For Film >> Movies >> Hinterland (2015) Film Review
Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten
Harry Macqueen's directorial debut sees Harvey (Macqueen) reconnect with childhood friend Lola (Lori Campbell) after the latter has been abroad for years. The reasons for Lola's reappearance are not immediately revealed, but we are given the sense - via a half-heard telephone conversation - that something serious has necessitated her return. Hinterland follows the two friends over the course of a weekend as they take a road trip to the Cornish coast, catching-up and visiting places they went together on shared family holidays when they were children.
The title - besides being the glimpsed name of a cafe Harvey drives past early in the film - refers not only to the desolate landscape that the pair move through during the weekend, but also the existential wilderness each currently finds themselves in. Both are creative types - Harvey is writing a novel, Lola is a singer-songwriter (as is Campbell in real life) - and are struggling to find their way in the world and also to work out what they want from life.
Creative struggle is a timeless theme, but the early inclusion of a political talk show (discussing wealth disparity in the UK and the impact of student debt and high rents on the younger generation) playing on Harvey's car radio suggests that Macqueen wishes to tie his protagonists' malaise to a contemporaneous set of social conditions. However, this apparent attempt to contextualise the dissatisfaction of twenty-somethings in the UK - or to at least acknowledge that there is a socio-economic context to such dissatisfactions - is somewhat undermined by the personal circumstances of the characters, given that we learn that both families are sufficiently well off to own more than one property, even if Harvey's Mum now rents out their holiday home.
Harvey and Lola's problems are existential rather than economic (passing comment is made about Harvey temporarily living with his Mum, but this seems motivated by his wanting to get his head down and write his novel rather than out of financial necessity). That is not to dismiss their problems as unworthy of exploration, but it might have been better to resolutely focus on creative ennui if the political commentary is to be only surface-deep - the nod to the current economic climate seems as tacked on as the handwritten poster on a bedroom wall declaring "We are the children of Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher".
Hinterland is more effective when it focuses on the resurrected friendship between the two leads and the strain that the passing of time places on shared connections. Moments of companionable silence between Harvey and Lola circumvent a sometimes stilted script and suggest that their bond runs deep. It is difficult to revisit the past because older eyes see things differently. This is visually conveyed by their visiting the coast in February (out of season), so that they are confronted by a landscape distinct from their childhood memories - the time of year also representing the current stasis in the lives of the protagonists (but with the potential for change). Macqueen and DoP Ben Hecking capture the stark and savage beauty of the countryside and coastline in winter, using a colour palette that contrasts the rich blue of the sea with the faded greens and browns of a landscape still partly in hibernation.
Utilising the beauty of the landscape - the majority of the film takes place outdoors - the film's style belies its low budget, and there is enough in Hinterland to suggest that Macqueen is worth watching out for in the future.Reviewed on: 19 Feb 2015