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Raindance 2017 Review: Hello Again

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One person’s titillation is another’s disgust – a theme applicable throughout the ages. Watching Hello Again was an eye-opening reminder of this truism, as well as a reflection on both the prudishness and debauchery of American cinema.

In short, Hello Again concerns itself with sex and memory, set to music and verse.

Director Tom Gustafson has assembled the pick of Broadway to deliver the songs and the sex, and he only succeeds on the first count. Ten sexual encounters in New York City are knitted together across time: the nurse and the GI, the repressed spouses, the producer and his muse, the senator and her lover.

The narratives are believable (except perhaps for one aboard the Titanic) and an actor from the previous scene plays a different character in the next. This linking works thematically in musical theatre, but here it thwarts the film viewer’s ability to immerse themselves in the film as a whole.

However, Hello Again is a victim of its history, being a derivative work. This is a second film version (the first in 1950) which this time mirrors the 1993 play, which itself derives from a scandalous European piece known as Le Ronde.

Hello Again will not be for everyone. For a film about desire, the sex is delivered both aggressively and dripping in prurience, a waste of talent, voices and bodies. Each carnal act is painful to watch – relegating the scenes to examples of short, sharp and soulless sexual gratification. If this was the message then Gustafson delivered it with aplomb. But Hello Again felt bitter, attacking the viewer for having desire, then ring-fencing it from the emotional resonance normally associated with a musical. Some people may get off on that, but the intimacy of the stage has not been replicated. There is no love lost or found in this adaptation.

Nonetheless, the cast takes their multiple roles seriously. Musical theatre has always been a leader in diversity and inclusiveness, and Hello Again casts actors from across the board. Rumer Willis and Jenna Ushkowitz were adept at delivering their lines, spoken and sung.

It’s a pity that Hello Again wants the viewer to glance away before desperately returning to stare hungrily at the action. Instead, it is that initial discomfort that becomes the overarching theme.

That being said, once the film was over, the tunes turned to ear worms, the repetition of phrasing and simple melodies better capturing a wistful mood.

Hello Again is best considered as a memory rather than an enjoyable watch, and I suspect that was the point all along.

Are you sensing a theme?

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2 Comments

  1. Haha You seem to have lost the entire point of the movie. I hope you have a day job!

    • Nope this is my day job, can you please let me know what I’ve missed as I would like to know. Feel free to tweet @Contrarah.

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