Harvey (Macqueen) and Lola (musician Lori Campbell) are childhood friends, reuniting after a long time apart. Lola has travelled the world, whilst Harvey has barely moved on- seemingly waiting, in part, for Lola’s return. They drive to a quaint cottage that Harvey’s parents own, and quickly fall in to reminiscing about their childhood. It’s platonic, although subtle hints and suggestive glances between the two suggest the possibility of something more.
The film’s greatest misgiving is that it never quite gets to the heart of what it is trying to achieve. The obvious differences in their character – Harvey the quiet, sensible type and Lola the exploring, spontaneous dreamer, are exciting because there is a natural conflict – how can two people, so similar in their early youth, and yet so different today, maintain their friendship? Is it only a friendship that they are after? Has too much changed? The truth, it seems, is interesting enough to ponder, but the conclusion reached is too subtle and unexplored to justify the run time.
In a further attempt to highlight the distance between them, Macqueen includes long scenes of near silence as the characters make their journey in to hills and back in time. But there isn’t enough going on in the first place to endure them, and the even the natural beauty surrounding them isn’t enough to maintain interest.
For a debut feature though, Hinterland is impressive. The chemistry between Harvey and Lola that morphs as the story progresses is natural and recognisable – there’s a genuine fondness and absorbing familiarity despite the awkwardness of spending so long apart. It is the interaction between the two of them that just about saves the film from feeling flat.
The photography is also outstanding, as the wild Welsh hillside that Harvey and Lola visited as youngsters is comforting and beautiful. The two are isolated, which forces them to push through their initial awkwardness, and relax in to their fondly remembered roles. It’s a shame that the film doesn’t quite achieve its aims, but it’s worth seeing; there’s certainly an exciting new talent in Harry Macqueen as a director- one can only hope that his next creation packs a slightly stronger punch.