Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"Strong performances throughout."

There were seven sisters, beautiful, on an island, Kintail. Sailors came, and asked to marry two of them. Their father, we are told, the chieftain, said yes with one condition - that they send their five brothers back to marry those who remained. The five sisters waited, waited by the shore, until they had become stone - mountains.

On that same island lives Clara, a star turn from Blythe Duff. Making first forays into bed and breakfast, she is visited three times - each of her guests as grist must pass through the mill of her stony isolation. It is her turn, however, that makes Hula, and though it has the ring of truth it is also fabulous.

Opening with the sisters on the shore, the story of the sisters waiting on the beach is the littoral made figurative. In Q&A, director Robin Haig discussed her thematic goals, and while stating her thesis explicitly aforehand would spoil some measure of this film's understated charm it should hopefully suffice to say that the titular hoops effectively serve as substitute signal, instigator, and signifier without ever feeling forced. Haig credits a late night bout of channel surfing for the decision to cast Duff, and from that happenstance has wrought something charming.

With strong performances throughout, a focus on small gestures and behaviours and reactions, clear demonstrations of technical skill in subtle service to story, Hula explores the boundaries between that which surrounds us and that with which we interact. Light, laughter, and landscape all have transformative powers, and it is in their conjunction that Hula really shines.

Haig suggested at 2017's Glasgow Short Film Festival that the short may yet develop into a feature or a television series, and even with the risk of becoming a hill that is something worth waiting for. For now, however, it's likely to be worth jumping through whatever hoops you need to in order to see this.

Reviewed on: 19 Mar 2017
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A gently humorous drama about uptight divorcee Clara, who opens a B&B in the Scottish Highlands. Unexpectedly inspired by her guests, she rediscovers the joys of life.

Director: Robin Haig

Writer: Robin Haig, Mandy Lee

Starring: Blythe Duff

Year: 2016

Runtime: 26 minutes

Country: UK


GSFF 2017

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