Hail is not a pleasant film - it is in fact alienating and dismisses the concept of an audience as the film is clearly not made for them. It immerses you into a mire of ugly imagery aided by scattershot and headache-inducing cinematography.
An ex-con by the name of Dan (Daniel Jones) is reunited with the love of his life, Leanne (Leanne Campbell). It is quickly evident the film is based on the experiences of these not-really-actors and it feels real which is not a detriment to the film, however it did impact my enjoyment of it and I was unable to find it accessible in any way.
Dan wants to go straight; he gets a simple job, screws that up and is lured back into the life of crime he sort-of tried to escape. Therein lies the real problem with Hail - it all happens so quickly, like ticking the boxes of a man-going-straight narrative, you can see it all coming despite the unclear camera angles and mumbling protagonists. When it does come the film simply gets darker, dirtier and ultimately numbing.
Hail has been described as an experiment, but other than the uncomfortable imagery and loose dialogue there is nothing special or revelatory here. Kurzel's Snowtown managed to be both extremely unsettling and dirty but yet maintained the crucial element of interest that Courtin-Wilson's film lacks.
I actually grew up around people similar to those depicted in Hail, so I had basically no desire to watch them in all their up-close reality on the big screen. It is to the film's credit that this feels so real. The purity that Courtin-Wilson aspires for is too much and for me crossed the line as to what a film should be; having dabbled in documentary it is no surprise he has taken these conventions into fictional terrain.
The second-half of this overlong film contains some strong and truly bizarre moments, including one that actually aggravated me with its utter pointlessness that many will claim has meaning.
Clearly I reacted to this film in a negative way. I understand and respect Courtin-Wilson is an artist, but Hail is as 'art-house' as films come, a term is dislike using but the only one I feel apt to apply considering the pretentious, inaccessible and messy nature of it.
Hail is out now on DVD from Madman Entertainment.
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