Posted by Valentina Valentini on February 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm
Hank and Asha is a uniquely warm love story; a small film that grows on you as the characters grow on each other. Now I’m not a critic by trade, but every so often I’ll catch a film that really deserves a critique. Sometimes that’s a negative one and sometimes it’s a positive, but in this case, from my opening statement, I’m sure we all can tell it’s going to be uplifting.
In this simple, low-budget indie we are welcomed into the lives of two twenty-somethings – Hank and Asha – through a series of video e-messages they send back and forth to each other. Hank, played by Andrew Pastides, is a filmmaker living in New York City. After the mild festival ‘success’ of his first film, he lands the super cool job of a reality show PA. Isn’t that the dream? …no?… Yea, Hank doesn’t think so either. But he is quietly resigned to it and loyally serves his master over the walkie-talkie kingdom.
In Prague, there is Asha (Mahira Kakkar) – a budding filmmaker taking a year away from her uber-traditional Indian family (who is arranging her marriage to a nice Indian man) to study at film school. Asha had seen Hank’s film at a festival screening and wanted to reach out, but he hadn’t been present for the Q&A. So she sends the first video introducing herself and her big round eyes and smile-all-the-time plump lips (almost to the point of obnoxiousness) intrigue Hank.
It is certainly a testament to writer-director, James E. Duff that 75 minutes of short vignettes of only two people doesn’t get boring. And it is more of a testament to the acting ability of the leads that we don’t get sick of seeing their faces. Pastides, especially, maintains this vulnerability that doesn’t lift until the last scene, where he gives us just a glimpse of how ok he is going to turn out. We root for him – for his romanticism, his sense of adventure, and his broken heart – and then we’re sent away with a flicker of hope. Because sometimes all you need is a flicker.
I’m not sure the film could’ve ended any other way, since it builds easily to a romantic and optimistic peak that can only crumble. Otherwise, I’d be here accusing it of being unrealistic and sappy. (However, Sleepless in Seattle does unrealistic and sappy perfectly – so we know it can be done, but Pastides may have a few years before he reaches Tom Hanks status).
Worth mentioning is the fact that Pastides and Kakkar never actually met during filming. So their videos back and forth were real, essentially, and the chemistry they had to convey was done with and through a camera. It’s worth wondering if that could have worked 15 years ago? Would it have been believable? Most likely not, since only now online dating and texting and sexting and all that cyber love is practically part of each new generation’s genetic makeup.
(Hank and Asha was co-written by Duff’s wife, Julia Morrison, who also produced and edited the film.)