This Japanese movie is a coming-of-age heartfelt comedy. Set in 1965, the film is based on true story about young girls in Japanese rural and declining coal mine area who took a chance of a life time to become Hula dancers in the newly constructed Hawaiian Village theme park in order to prove that they could make a difference and make a living even if the mine has to be shut down.
The film got 11 nominations and won 4 awards from the 2006 Japanese Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Director for Sang-il Lee – the Japanese director of Korean ethnic origin, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Yû Aoi. The movie also received the Popularity Award because it’s considered as the most popular film in Japan. Needless to say, the film deserves all the awards it got. Even though the storyline is predictable and cliche, the film is not boring at all. The script is well balance with comical elements and melodrama parts that would definitely make you laugh and cry all through the movie. It’s like an extremely swinging emotional roller coaster ride with a satisfying ending. The ensemble of the cast performs marvelous job in the film, especially Yasuko Matsuyuki, the leading actress who took a role of a Hula dance teacher, and Yû Aoi, in the role of the leader of the Hula girls, as they had only 3 months to practice the dance moves we saw in the film and they did it professionally well. Moreover, if you understand Japanese rural dialect, you would be amazed how well the ensemble of the cast could speak it so naturally.
All in all, Hula Girl is a feel-good Japanese movie with nostalgia mood and never-give-up theme. You’ll definitely laugh and cry with the Hula girls.
5 Stars out of 5 – recommend to everyone, it’s enjoyable and heartwarming film.