6 Apr 2022
Doug Allen, Nimmi Harasgama, Daisy Badger
Hello Darlin’ is a geezer-ific, morally obtuse drama from director Gary Delaney, which features some great tension and character building, but is let down by plot holes and an ending which feels detached from the rest of the story. The result is an engaging, if flawed film which doesn’t quite deliver on its promise.
Les Dalton (Doug Allen) is an ex-soldier recently released from prison for armed robbery. He is stalked by detective Derek Clayton (Patrick Carney Jr) who brought him down 9 years earlier, as he attempts to rebuild his life with daughter Holly (Daisy Badger) and new neighbour Aanya (Nimmi Harasgama). But both his friends and enemies believe Les still has stolen gold stashed away somewhere, despite his objections. And that belief soon gets him into trouble again…
There’s a lot about Hello Darlin’ that really doesn’t work. It’s central macguffin (the mysterious gold) is given little definition or detail – such as where it was stolen from or how it came to be hidden. The plot is confusing and convoluted, and features some rushed and poorly explained developments – such as Les and Derek’s impromptu alliance only shortly after it is established that the detective has spent 9 years planning to take revenge on his rival. Character motivations are all over the place as well, with pretty serious transgressions from Holly and Les’ wife Carol (Sian Reeves) raised and dropped in sudden fashion. The ending also feels a poor fit thematically, and fails to really wrap up the numerous plotlines.
However, despite this, there is something enjoyable and engaging about the film that is worth checking out. Doug Allen is brilliantly empathetic as the hero who cannot quite escape his dark past. Learning to direct an inner fury and calculated malice at those who deserve it, whilst working on making up for his past failings with his family and recovering from PTSD make him a fascinating anti-hero, and Allen’s quiet yet intense performance serves the character brilliantly. His chemistry with Nimmi Harasgama is convincing and makes for a believable love story between two very different characters. Similarly, Patrick Carney Jr and Daisy Badger are strong as allies and antagonists to Les. It’s just a shame that their characters in particular do not act more consistently within the story.
The film is shot in a dynamic manner and director Gary Delaney shows a real ability to build tension in a number of scenes. The night-time break-ins are pulsating (though the lighting in the second makes it hard to follow) and even simple conversations are directed in such a way to bring a sense of unease in viewers as to character’s true intentions. Fight scenes are believable and brutal, and impressively restrained in their number given the film’s premise, to the greater effect of those that do take place – which are used sensibly to progress character development.
Hello Darlin’ is not a classic, but for an intense, well-performed drama that builds its characters well and intensifies its central premise, it works well. The plot unfortunately falls apart somewhat, and undermines some excellent stuff elsewhere – leaving the film’s potential unfulfilled.