A celebrated military contractor returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs and reconnects with a long-ago love while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watch-dog assigned to him.
As a film maker and former film school professor, I have a lot of my students as friends on Facebook. Many of them, most notably ones of Asian descent, came out full of vitriol and condemnation of this film, many of them before they had even seen it, as did a lot of the popular media.
IGNORE THEM! This is Cameron Crowe back in form. The film in no way disrespects Hawaiian culture or ignores its aboriginal and Asian populations, in fact it celebrates them. Emma Stone as a character named Allison Ng (“My dad was half Chinese and half Hawaiian… so I’m 1/4 Hawaiian”) had to be played by a white actress in that she is referencing exactly that desire of some white people to pawn themselves off as ethic. She does it marvelously.
In fact the whole cast is amazing, with a script that absolutely sparkles, especially in its frequent nods to non-verbal communication. The last, most moving and completely wordless scene is worth the price of admission. Danielle Rose Russell’s performance in this scene is breathtaking, and she is completely luminous through out, even though she has only a handful of lines.
Others with only handfuls of lines who make the film really shine are John Krazinski, Bill Murray and Alex Baldwin. The three leads are all amazing, with Stone a little over the top (tho appropriate for her character) and I think this is as good a work as Rachel McAdams has ever done.
I have to admit that the plotting of the whole military contractor subplot had a few too many little deus ex machina bows tied around it, but it was all maguffin for the beautiful insights into human heart and its connections anyway. And not nearly as preposterous as the embarrassing Elizabethtown.
I put a lot of store in IMDb ratings, and I have never seen them as far off the mark as they are with this film. I am a progressive, and expect cultural respect from Hollywood, but this may be another sad case of the hidden ability for random accusations of political incorrectness to cow the media.