Hall is so much more than meets the eye. It tells a tale of a global health crisis, and of a crisis that has been operating in society for far too long… abusive relationships. These topical themes become muddled as the story progresses due to sporadic plot execution. But overall this film is visually pleasing, entertaining, and able to overcome its shortcomings.
The beginning sequence was very attention-grabbing. Hall plunges viewers into the middle of the plot as it opens to the gut-wrenching sounds of people gasping for air as we see pregnant hotel guest Naomi (Yumiko Shaku) claw her way down the hall for any sign of aid or exit. Details unfold describing a horrific airborne flu that is sweeping the nation…sound familiar? A film surrounding a highly contagious airborne virus that surpasses H1N1 virus felt poignant and topical. However, not everyone may want to watch a film dealing with a dramatized parallel to the current state of affairs. That being said, I don’t think it was Francesco Giannini’s intention to release this film during a pandemic. But if I am being honest… it gives the film a little extra “oomph” while watching.
After we are made aware of the virus, Hall then proceeds to skip back a few hours to Val (Carolina Bartczak), a woman on a road trip with her husband Branden (Mark Gibson) and daughter Kelly (Bailey Thain). It becomes clear that Val is using this road trip as a chance to escape her husband’s abusive clutches. Hall showcases two women in the midst of toxic relationships and uses the onset of a global pandemic to personify the powerlessness, fear, and confinement abused women feel. That imagery was both unsettling and powerful.
The entire film is a tension trek. The anticipation and tension feel exhilarating at first but with no ebb and flow it began to feel a bit exhausting. The exhaustion was met with some reward as I did find myself holding my breath on more than one occasion. And that is all thanks to the stand out performances of the cast
Val (Carolina Bartczak), Naomi (Yumiko Shaku), and Kelly (Bailey Thain) all deserve a round of applause for their theatrical talents. These three women held down a movie that at times felt choppy and disjointed. Bartczak was beaten and defeated but exuded an inner maternal strength that was truly moving. Shaku was dynamic in her displays of vulnerability and the sequence of her crawling on the floor was not one I would soon forget. Thain was sweet, innocent, and added much-needed levity to an otherwise very dark film.
While Hall has it’s shining moments. There were some plot points that just didn’t land. About mid-way through the film, we meet Julian (Julian Richings), a scientist involved with the spread of the nefarious virus. This small side plot did not serve the film at all. I think there could have been a more effective way to introduce the pandemic’s origin and purpose. But more importantly, I think the film would have been better without that information altogether and benefited from focusing all its energy on Val and Naomi’s fight for freedom from the toxicity infecting all aspects of their lives.
All-in-all Hall was an enjoyable film. The story idea is topical and the cast is stellar. Hall gets in its own way with choppy plot points, and an anticlimactic ending so I think this would have been an incredible short film.
6 out of 10
|Runtime:||1hr. 20 Mins.|