Hula Girls (2006)

26.

★★★★

Directed by: Sang-il Lee
Written by: Sang-il Lee, Daisuke Habara
Starring: Yasuko Matsuyuki, Etsushi Toyokawa and Yû Aoi

Building a Hawaiian center to encourage tourism in Iwaki – a north-eastern Japanese city dependent on coal mines for its economy – is a leap of faith. For Madoka Hirayama, teaching a group of girls to wash their soot-stained hands and mimic the graceful gestures of Hawaiian hula dancers is an even greater one.

Hawaii brought to Japan

With a little bit of faith, vibrant performances and an emphasis on community spirit and passion, Hula Girls is an inspiring and fun journey that finds happiness and achievement in circumstances that appear bleak. In balancing likable characters with the more serious issues of unemployment and the stubborness of older generations, who deem it their duty to continue mining as the only source of income due their ancestors’ own hard work, Hula Girls combines humor, drama and an uplifting message that draws on symbolism and dance to convey its story.

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