Search Film Reviews

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

HANK AND ASHA: Slamdance On the Road 2013 Review

Mahira Kakkar in Hank and Asha
Photo credit: Bianca Butti

2013, 73 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

NOTE: I was able to review this film through the generous support of IFC Center, one of New York's best movie theaters.  They show a selection of new and old films and bring in talent from almost every movie they show:  The film was showing as part of Slamdance On the Road 2013, where films from the Slamdance Film Festival were shown at special screenings at IFC Center with accompanying short films and filmmaker Q&As.

Hank and Asha won the Slamdance Film Festival Audience Award this year and is one of the most unique romance films to come along in a long time.  It is the only romance I can remember seeing where the two lovers never meet face to face.  The film follows the relationship between Hank, a New York-based aspiring filmmaker, and Asha, an Indian film student in Prague.  Every scene is a video message, meaning the two never talk in person.  This adds a really interesting and modern touch to the movie.

The lead performances are excellent.  Andrew Pastides plays Frank and Mahira Kakkar plays Asha.  According to the filmmakers, there was a 30 page outline for the film, but no specific dialogue written, meaning the two actors ad-libbed most of the film.  Their respective performances are so natural and so finely observed that it was rarely evident that they were acting.  What makes this all the more fascinating is that Pasides and Kakkar shot their scenes out of order and at different times.  (It is a feat that the actors and editor made it seem as if they actually were communicating back and forth.)  The two actors didn't even meet until the final day of filming.  Pastides and Kakkar are charming actors and they are literally the whole show.  Had they not been as talented as they are, this movie would have never worked.

The story is bittersweet and realistic, yet I was frequently able to stay one step ahead of it.  That being said, its unconventional narrative style and honesty really make it a winner.  I love honest romance films and this one had heart too, making it that much better.

The film was shot in a total of about 3 weeks with nearly even shooting time in Prague and New York, and the first cut clocked in at about 165 minutes!  Editor Julia Morrison (also co-writer/co-producer) did a superb job at keeping the running time down to a brisk 73 minutes.  Rarely are there scenes that don't add to the story.

Overall, Hank and Asha is a really sweet love story whose video message format could have been gimmicky, but wasn't.  It is used to great effect.  It gives a sense of sadness that the two characters never actually have a conversation, as they seem as if they would be a wonderful couple.  That is the way many relationships work nowadays - long distance and over internet.  In a way, the movie shows how people are growing close by being farther apart.  I hope people can see this film soon, as many will be able to relate to it.


No comments:

Post a Comment