Hawaiian Punch
Northwest Film Forum
Seattle, WA
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Hawaiian Punch
Local Sightings Film Festival 2013

Sep 29

Nandan Rao  Corvallis, OR  68 min

Sunday, Sep 29 at 07:15PM

Hawaiian Punch is an observational documentary following two Mormon missionaries, Mikael and Tor, during their time in Hawaii. The audience is privy to their lives sharing a house and their recreational activities around the island. Afternoons are spent cliff diving, cruising on their moped along palm tree-lined streets and talking about relationships and religion.

We are shown a title card in the beginning (presumably a directive that Mormon men are given) about the urgency to find a spouse and marry. This is the context for their presence in Hawaii: Mikael and Tor are there to meet girls. We are shown scenes of them flirting and arguing with women, awkwardly probing their standing as friend or potential suitor; with his editorial scalpel, Rao expertly chooses moments that reveal the advancing and retreating nature of early moments in a romantic relationship.

Knowingly, Hawaiian Punch lacks action. In fact, it is the inaction of the film and its protagonists that reveal the fundamental truth in their lives. Instead of spiritual enlightenment, these are two men on the verge of realizing their own stasis. Mikael is pursuing romance as a devout Mormon, while Tor openly expresses his lack of faith and weighs the value of raising children with or without a spiritual community. Neither seem to reach any fulfillment, but their compelling thread of conversations builds throughout the film.

The backdrop of Hawaii, in all its splendor, is a pivotal part of this film and confectionary for the eyes. Rao, as the cinematographer, indulges himself and the audience with long shots of the rocky bluffs overlooking the ocean, men playing on the beach, a church surrounded by lush green foliage and a forever cerulean sky.

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Northwest Film Forum (View)
1515 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
United States


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