SIFF 2021: Waikiki (****)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 10, 2021)

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Trouble in paradise. This intense, shattering psychological drama is about a young native Hawaiian woman (Danielle Zalopany, in an extraordinary performance) who is at a crossroads in her life. She suffers PTSD from an abusive relationship. She is temporarily homeless and living in her van. She juggles several part-time jobs, including bartending and teaching hula. One night, upset and distracted following an altercation with her ex, she hits a homeless man with her van. From this point the film makes a tonal shift that demands your total attention. A tour-de-force for Christopher Kahunahana, who served as writer, producer, director, and editor.

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