The American/Chinese film Pali Road is nominated “Best Narrative Feature” at HIFF this year, and it had its world premiere at the film festival this week. What I did not know was that the main actors actually were present, and that they were doing a Q&A session afterwards. I’ll admit this might have influenced my film review, because I found myself quite excited when I discovered the whole crew sitting in the row in front of me.
The film is shot entirely in Hawaii, mostly in Honolulu. I thought it was pretty awesome watching a film with places I have been, while having the main characters sitting only meters by. This made the whole film experience a hundred times better.
The film is about Lily, a young doctor coming from a wealthy Chinese family, and her boyfriend Neil, who teaches at an elementary school in Honolulu. The film is named Pali Road for a reason. The young people drives up Pali Road, where they stop at a lookout point. Neil proposes to Lily who is not sure what to answer. They end up driving d
own Pali Road again, arguing over their different point of view. The future changes dramatically when the couple get in a car accident. Lily wakes up after the car accident discovering she is now married to her boss (which also is Neil’s rival), Dr. Mitch Kayne. They have an established life, and a five year old son she can’t remember. Everyone around her deny that her boyfriend, Neil ever existed. Lily finds herself in a hopeless situation, while constantly looking for answers.
I thought the beginning of the film was great. But as Lily later in the movie becomes more and more frustrated by the situation, you can’t help but get frustrated too. I liked most parts of the film, except the end, which I though was pretty depressing. Just to mention: I know some people found the ending beautiful too.
However, watching Pali Road followed by the Q&A with the actors and director Jonathan Lim was definitely #MyHIFFMoment so far at the 35th Hawaii International Film Festival.