Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hank and Asha

Hank and Asha was one of my favorite movies from last year and as of TODAY it's now available on Amazon. Support independent film and support romantic comedies that don't belittle the genre.

With the benefit of modern technology, it feels like we’re able to be in communication with anyone at any time. At this very moment, I can use free technology to talk and see someone on the other side of the planet. It’s a level of global intimacy that has never been available to mankind before, where you can know someone better than you know anybody else…but you have never been in the same city before.

Asha first heard of Hank when she saw his film at a festival in Prague. Smitten by his talent, she decides to send him a video of appreciation. When he receives the recording in New York, he returns the favor. Then she responds. And he responds. And she responds.

What they create is something special. The entire film is composed of these recordings they send each other with the titular characters looking right into the camera as they imagine the one they care about on a different continent. While a show like Peep Show uses this device to bring the audience along into their spiral of awkward destruction, Hank and Asha uses it to make you part of the romance. We become even more invested because, more than any other film, we feel that we’re in the room for their most sincere moments—even though nobody technically is.

This experiment could have easily been a series of Skype calls with the leads always moving a bit too close to their laptop camera. Since both characters are enthusiastic documentary filmmakers, this allows director James E. Duff to make every video they send each other to be more visually dynamic. These are two people who want to depict their own individual truths. So they create experiences that they can capture on film to share with each other. This includes setting up the camera before they try the famous beer from the Czech Republic for the first time or when they are at their most emotionally confused, they press record so they can convey exactly what they’re feeling when they receive surprising news.

Enough cannot be said about the two actors who have to carry the film. Andrew Pastides and Mahira Kakkar never miss a beat for even a millisecond. They have no one else to react to but the all seeing-lens and the results are incredible. They control the frame with their expert understanding of the characters as Pastides and Kakkar are able to portray all the emotions the characters mean to put onto film and the ones they can’t hide. This gimmick is incredibly challenging for actors and without them this could be an unfortunate disaster. Instead, thanks to their charmingly perfect performances, a beautiful vision and a wonderful script by Duff and Julia Morrison, this is one of the most likable and rewarding romantic films in years.