In the opening shots of Hinterland, several clues to its director’s political allegiance are dotted within the mise-en-scene. There’s the self-conscious, angst-ridden note scrawled on a wall – “we’re the children of Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher” – and over the intermittently scrambled car radio waves, debates on equality and university debt persist.
Lola and Harvey (Lori Campbell and Harry Macqueen) road trip it to the countryside, to a house important to their childhood past, and back to London. Aside from this, plot is sparse. Small art-house films can work without a spoon-fed narrative, though Hinterland is particularly minimalist.
There’s some self-conscious acting, and dialogue that at times falls a bit flat. Lola and Harvey bittersweetly reminisce about the past, the financial difficulty of living in London, the challenging field of creative jobs, and debate travelling as purported “freedom”. These middle-class anxieties are central to the film’s dramatic core, reflecting the droll, lukewarm experiences of young people today.
The film’s implicit discontent with capitalism and its latent individualist egoism is reflected – unintentionally or not – in Lola’s self-centred character. She’s deeply content in talking about herself, ignoring Harvey’s overt affections. These character types and outlook are more than just the sum of individualist, market-orientated philosophy: technology’s relation to capitalism, the decline of civic life and religion, gender shifts, hell, the centrifugal forces of modernity, have spawned them.
As a story, Hinterland is light and overly saccharine, but it’s pretty and well shot. Macqueen’s sensibility as a director is both familiar and ethereal: he combines nostalgia-heavy post-rock atmospherics well with the general ambience. Some tension creeps in, and there’s an attempt at meaningful social commentary, but it cries out for some decisiveness to pack that much-needed punch.
Hinterland is released nationwide and on demand on 27th February 2015.
Watch the trailer for Hinterland here: