Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

Movie review: Aloha

Roslyn Hull

A celebrated military contractor returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs and reconnects with a long-ago love while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watch-dog assigned to him. imdb

In the USA this film has almost been buried under the flak surrounding Emma Stone’s portrayal of a Hawaiian woman. This one is typical:

“It’s pathetic her character is suppose[d to] be a quarter Chinese and a quarter Native Hawaiian. I’m sure there was some actress that was actually this racial mixture who could have had this role. Instead of casting a white woman to portray a mixed raced/hapa woman.” discussion board on imdb

I agree with the sentiment and would much prefer that ethnically correct actors were cast in roles. However this has never, ever happened.

Cliff Curtis, a talented Maori actor, has worked in Hollywood for years but has only been able to use his actual accent in a couple of films. However he has played olive complexioned nationalities from almost every continent. Seriously, look him up. Asian actors play a raft of nationalities – Daniel Day Kim has played Japanese, Korean and yes, even Hawaiian.

Young actors play, old play young. Dancers play non-dancers and bumble-footed stars are taught to dance. I am not defending inaccurate casting but I am asking for a pause for thought – it is called a ‘dream factory’, not a ‘truth factory’.

So to drown any discussion of what is a very good film under casting issues seems a waste to me. Yes, there may be a Swedish/Chinese/Hawaiian actress out there that could have been offered the part but would she have Emma Stone’s comedic timing? Would she be able to flick from ‘blue flame special’ to ‘fragile girl’ believably? Would she be able to hold her own with Bradley Cooper (who is really committed to his role)?

Because she would need to be on top of her game — the cast of this film is like the story itself — complex, funny and on point.

Bill Murray is wonderfully amoral in the best serious role I’ve seen from him in a while. Alec Baldwin makes a meal of his small role and Danny McBride is far less annoying than usual. However, besides the two leads, the best characters, the ones whose story arc I was completely involved in, are John Krasinski and Rachel McAdams.

A fascinating portrayal of a married couple. And a great riff on communicating without words – one of the big themes of the film. The others are being true to yourself and your significant other (of course, this is a romantic comedy after all) and respecting the sky – symbolic of your origins, your dreams, your hopes. Not bad for a romcom.

The plot is also respectful of the traditional way of life of the Hawaiian people and their sovereign right to their lands but it is never, ever preachy. Well done (writer and director) Cameron Crowe.

Crowe is famous for having a light touch with weighty themes and for me he achieves this in Aloha. He is also known for giving a male perspective on romance (the plot of, and quotes from, Say Anything and Jerry Maguire are now part of our pop culture). And he does it again – Cooper and Krasinski’s characters ring true in the way they love and what they do. Except for one scene near the end, which jarred for me.

Well worth seeing.


Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author

  • Deb

    Interesting that you liked it, it’s been universally panned and savaged by the critics. A major bomb in the states. I think I’ll wait for it to come on netflix or DVD.