Sensitive low-budget British indie Hinterland follows two childhood friends getting to know each other again as adults on a weekend road trip to their old seaside holiday home in Cornwall.
Old Joyby Alexa Dalby
Producer/director/screenwriter/actor Harry McQueen has used a £10,000 budget in the most economical way possible and turned it into a two-handed road movie. Childhood friends Harvey (Macqueen) and Lola (singer/songwriter Lori Campbell) set off from London for the weekend to Cornwall to the seaside house where they used to spend summer holidays as children. Harvey is an aspiring writer and Lola is a struggling singer/songwriter who has been living in the US for years, so it’s a long time since they last met. Over the course of the weekend they retrace old steps from the past, literally and emotionally, as they get to know each other again as adults, whilst at times still behaving like the children they were. But this time it’s Cornwall in bleak February, not sunny summer, and the landscape is brown and barren, and the weather is windy and clearly freezing.
News on the car radio as they drive west sets the political climate for young people in Britain and over the course of the film Harvey and Lola talk about their anxieties and the past – and eventually Lola’s father’s infidelity which has split up her family. Together in their old holiday home, they recreate their childhood in rather sweet ways. They talk to each other in their bedrooms on their old walkie-talkies in their private childhood language, they have a foamy bath together (with their underwear on) and clean their teeth like mirror images of each other. On the second night, they even sleep – innocently like children – in the same bed in the attic. And they talk. It’s tender and sensitive but it’s also meandering. Maybe Harvey is privately captivated by adult Lola but maybe she is too woolly-hatted, manic pixie dream-girl to notice.
Macqueen and Campbell (and the small crew) lived together for a month to get to know each other, workshopping the script. This has created a real intimacy in their onscreen relationship. And, in fact, although they worked from a script, this rapport meant that some of their onscreen dialogue was improvised, Macqueen says, and it’s certainly convincingly hesitant and natural. As in many low-budget British films, the landscape itself is a character and there are some luscious locations. Some scenes, especially a long shot of the two of them walking across rolling patterns of sand on a vast beach, are beautifully shot, thanks to cinematographer Ben Hecking. But there are sequences that are overly extended – feeding the ponies on Dartmoor lasts far too long, as does a boat and fishing trip. There are cuts to sequences shot with warm red lighting that may be fantasy and there is also a softly intimate firelight scene where Lola plays the guitar and sings. The rhythm of the shots creates a poetic feeling of melancholy and nostalgia.
Hinterland means both the transitional location and also the emotional baggage of its two characters. It’s about self-discovery, love and change for young adults – however, it’s so minimalist and understated that it ends up feeling rather slight and inconclusive. But although it has its self-indulgent longueurs and its faults, there are moments when it is genuinely touching. It’s an ultra-low-budget first feature which shows promise, and it won the Best British Feature award at the Raindance Film Festival in 2014.
Hinterland is released on 27th February 2015 in the UK