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In 1965 the planned closing of a coal mine in Iwaki (northeastern Japan) will put 2,000 people out of work with devastating effects on the community. The mining company plans to build the Hawaiian Center to promote tourism, but the idea meets with resistance by the community's union families who boycott the effort. However, a few of the young women in Joban see the call for dancers to possibly provide a more promising future. Norio Yoshimoto is put in charge of organizing the center, with Madoka Hirayama, a professional dancer fleeing creditors in Tokyo hired to train the dancers. Kimiko, her friend Sanae, and Sayuri are amongst the handful first showing up for lessons but soon others join them. When Kimiko's mother, Chiyo, discovers that she has skipped school classes to learn dancing the two argue and Kimiko leaves home. Her brother Yojiro, one of the newly out of work miners, comes to be supportive of her dancing as he becomes protective of Madoka. The girls start to tour ...Written by
My impression of the hula dance - random wave movement of the hands by tanned girls wearing straw skirts with a big flower on the head. That was before this movie.
The Hula Girls, a heartwarming comedy from Japan, tells about the craft, emotions and passion behind this dance. Being Hawaii has almost nothing to do with a depressed and cold mining town, almost devoid of colours and warmth. However, a group of girls from the conservatives to bespectacled obasan, decided to learn the dance to develop this declining town into a Hawaiian Village.
This is a daunting task to a Tokyo dance teacher (wonderfully played by Yasuko Matsuyuki) and a demoralizing act to the conservative skeptics in the small village.
A story about going against all odds may remind you of another Japanese comedy, The Swing Girls. Both movies boost great energy, lovely music and can put a smile on your face.
As Japan official's entry to the 2007 Academy Awards Best Foreign Film, The Hula Girls is not only entertaining, but motivational. It may be small in ambition, but big in what in can achieve to inspire people to chance, accept, fall and rise again.
It is funny and touching at the small time, pushing your heartstrings (and tear ducts) with the girls' triumph over people who do not believe in them, which includes themselves.
With its infectious energy and stirring movements, this hula dance deserves a round of applause and bouquets.
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