Directed by: #ShaunJamesGrant
A couple on an ominous journey pull into a rest stop diner in the early hours of the morning.
As Hope opens, I’m immediately met with the smokiness of 35mm, accompanied by a short monologue that plays over a nighttime journey to a dreary diner. Credited only as Him (Yann Gael) and Her (Jane Dowden), the couple hesitantly sit at a booth by the window, exchanging looks of angst; a disquietness that shows that this isn’t their first stop at a diner, and probably isn’t their last. As they order two coffees it’s clear that lack of sleep and worry is keeping them up, with the caffeine being more of a necessity of normality (being in a diner, what more is there to order?). The two are strong within each other’s company, but each falter to reveal their true feeling once alone. When they finally confront these feelings together, the picture takes its upturn to reveal what it is they are journeying so far and so long for.
Every piece of this affecting drama is practically perfect, from the wonderful duo of Jane Dowden and Yann Gael, to the beautifully warm cinematography by Patrick Goaln, capturing their raw performances with great intimacy. There’s a stunning grain overlaying these visuals (thanks to shooting on Kodak 35mm) that brings out a sense of naturalness; like the shots were so uniquely stripped-back that any further touches would lessen the appeal, though I’m sure some tweaking has been done, which only impresses me more since it looks so organic. Connecting the tissue of the story and visual is a simply gorgeous score by Kyle Preston, which accentuates all the feelings brought forward by the actors. The final piece that plays over the last shot is one of the best pieces of music I’ve heard written for film this year.
On a technical level, Hope is a phenomenally rich and textured film. Taking the simplest route for a story such as this can be so beneficial and in every sense, this film mastered that notion. It’s very well paced and has a superb edit, great costumes, sound; it all feels very tight. Every element spun into a singular visual and audible treat that slowly brews, and as the film creeps to its close, a tear-jerking moment simmers before the credits ease you out. Hope is a remarkably small but moving film. The theme of hope is strong, and the music, visuals and performances drive it home.