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Hank and Asha
Other // Unrated // April 18, 2014
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Fandango]
In modern times, we have technology that has changed the world in nearly every aspect imaginable. A lot of relationships have been formed via the Internet. With this in mind, it would only make sense for a film to be made to reflect this side of how relationships are formed. This also allows the motion picture to have a more natural tone that typical romantic comedies generally lack. However, many filmmakers forget that having some chuckle-worthy material isn't enough to carry such a film. If the audience doesn't truly care for the two characters, then it will fail in its attempt to truly captivate us in the progression of their journey. Fortunately, Hank and Asha is an example of a film that succeeds.
Hank (Andrew Pastides) is a young filmmaker who spends his days doing what he must in order to afford the expensive living costs of New York. He receives a video letter from Asha (Mashira Kakkar), who is an Indian film student in Prague. She saw his film at a festival and decided to reach out to him with inquiries on his feature. Audiences witness this love story through a series of video letters about humans aching for love in this hyper-connected world.
The video messages lend to a technique of storytelling that might take some audiences aback. In order to get rid of any confusion, the film isn't compiled of back-and-forth Skype conversations. They are video messages, giving each character the opportunity to have the spotlight and shine independently. This automatically provides the feature with an original tone, as they begin to feel similar to love letters being sent between them in modern times. The audience is simply watching as their connection begins to unfold. Writers James E. Duff and Julia Morrison have provided the most genuine atmosphere possible here. Hank and Asha feels a lot less like a motion picture and a lot more like real video messages being sent between two people from different parts of the world. They inspire each other to try new things and learn more about another culture that they might not be entirely familiar with. Hank and Asha both live entirely different lives, and their cultures have different expectations for them to fulfill. Hank is a likable guy, who feels so genuine that he could be your next-door neighbor. Asha's personality comes across as infectious and honest, which would only naturally lead us to investing in wanting to see them succeed.
There's a lot of sentimental material here that simply adds to us wanting them to find a way to be together. However, Duff and Morrison don't keep us there forever. Just like any other relationship, they're ultimately pulled back down to reality. Not only are they in different countries, but they also have stresses and expectations put on them by both their societies and their families to pursue certain goals. This romance quickly turns into a complicated matter, where they try to fight to keep their communication alive, so that they can ultimately meet in person and be together. Duff and Morrison provide a strong build-up, as it portrays human emotions incredibly well. Despite the fact that these are video messages, that doesn't stop them from reacting as anybody would if these events were to happen in person. Hank and Asha ultimately turns into a roller coaster of emotions for both the audience and our characters.
While there are most certainly pros to this method of filmmaking, the video messages also have a major negative aspect to them. While we're able to see the characters shine on their own, we don't get the chance to see how the dialogue would work going back-and-forth in real time. Since the entire feature is shot in this style, it largely limits on a huge opportunity that could have made the picture stronger. This film doesn't only fit into the romance genre, as it also boasts some light humor. None of it will have you laughing out loud, but you'll find yourself chuckling when it wants you to. However, most of this takes place through the first half of the film, as the second half takes a turn in a completely different direction. Fortunately, the final act of the motion picture feels right. My one major complaint is that Hank and Asha is far too short. With a duration of only 73 minutes, I was left feeling like there was a lot of material that was left out.
The huge driving force behind this motion picture is the acting. Hank (Andrew Pastides) delivers a good performance, as he makes it incredibly easy to connect with his character. Not only is he likable, but he comes across as being very natural. However, Mahira Kakkar blows this out of the water with her performance as Asha. This is one of the most infectious performances that I have seen in a while. The majority of the humorous moments that this film has to offer come from her excellent delivery of the dialogue. Even when the picture begins to have a more serious tone, Kakkar handles the transition with ease. It doesn't take long to get pulled into the story with these two actors in the spotlight. Mahira Kakkar and Andrew Pastides truly make us believe that this is a real relationship unfolding right before our eyes, and we so desperately want them to end up together by the time the credits start rolling.
This isn't the first time that we've seen this video message-style of filmmaking, but it's perhaps one of the best we've seen when it comes to its execution. Hank and Asha is a film that defines modern romance with the involvement of technology. There are a countless number of relationships being created and maintained through the Internet. Director James E. Duff puts us right in the middle of this love story that develops between Hank and Asha, making it feel as important as one of our own relationships. Mahira Kakkar and Andrew Pastides are empathetic and incredibly natural, making for a dramatic roller coaster ride of emotions. Hank and Asha is a well-crafted and raw depiction of love that works rather well. Recommended.