Hail Movie Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Hail
  Reviewed by Damien Straker on October 28th, 2012
   Madman
presents a film directed by Amiel Courtin-Wilson
   Starring: Daniel P. Jones and Leanne Letch
  
Running Time: 103 minutes
  
Rating: R18+
  
Released: October 25th 2012


5/10

 


Hail is an Australian docudrama, fictionalising the life of former criminal Daniel P. Jones, whose been cast as himself. The film starts with Jones leaving prison to be reunited with his partner Leanne (real life partner Leanne Letch). Despite his past, they are a happy couple, with enough friends to go out with and celebrate. But Danny is also troubled by having to find employment when he has limited preparation and continues to be judged on his scruffy appearance. Once Danny resorts to stealing and eventually drug taking, tragedy strikes, which sees his moral judgements spiral out of control. This leads to documentary filmmaker and director Amiel Courtin-Wilson's arching philosophical problem: are the poor choices one makes disruptive to the amount of love that we know exists inside of them? It's a powerful, unresolved question, encapsulated in a performance so transcendent of any conventional description or method of acting that it defies one's need to critique Jones on his ability to play his role. He engages us with a multifaceted version of himself: funny, romantic and gentle but also extremely brittle in the face of the unknown world that he thinks will offer little to someone with his past. But Hail is a great performance short of a movie, convincingly portrayed but amateurish and unsatisfying in every other respect. Director Courtin-Wilson makes the fatal error of crafting this story without a script, using scene breakdowns and non-professional actors instead.


The film's composition is disastrous. It lacks both rhythm and structure. Some scenes are too short, disjointed and purposeless, while others are overlong, rambling and poorly photographed; a result of choosing to improvise dialogue but unwilling to call 'cut' either. The early scenes show some promise. Danny seeks employment in a garage, without a résumé, and you admire his unrehearsed bravery, wincing as he's verbally blowtorched by younger men. "You look like a criminal", one bloke tells him. However, true to the film's hopelessly fragmented approach, the employment thread is left unresolved and therefore weightless. Hail's second half is the most fictionalised and bloody of the two parts but also the more opaque and unconvincing. Excessive visual gimmicks and over-stylisation provide little closure or meaning, building to moments of ugly, sadistic violence that disperse any relatable socio-political issues. Are techniques like screen blurring and extreme close-ups of Danny's lips and facial hair supposed to represent our changing perspective of this man during his psychological transformation? The film shares an uneasy relationship with these formal devices. They visualise Danny with an almost inhuman perspective, but given Wilson and Danny are friends in real life, he's not prepared to demonise him entirely. Earlier, Danny mentions his partner is like a palindrome, something that is the same at the end as it is at the beginning, and the film ends unpersuasively with a dream-like image of Danny embracing Leanne. After his horrific actions, how do we appreciate that this man acted out of love and not madness and jealousy? Why should we still care? I still don't know.






 
 



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