Hully Gully (An American Romance) (2014) – By Samantha Paradise

Pablo D’Stair’s Hully Gully isn’t a film, so much as it is a dialogue-based, disjointed bemusement. The 54 minute art-house piece isn’t shy when it comes to the delicate topic of dullness. Rather it situates the audience right in the middle of Daphne (Helen Bonaparte) and Reggie’s (Carlyle Edwards) co-habituating relationship and documents everything from lackluster conversation to flagrant insecurities. Despite a lack of narrative and cinematic effects, there is no doubt that D’Stair has truly captured the ‘American Romance’ in his experimental, indie comedy.

It is difficult to discuss this film without mentioning the aesthetic. Every act is shot in black and white with a concerning case of slightly out of focus. However, this appears purposeful given that the lead characters are always clouding our view with their chain smoking addiction. Through the haze of Hully Gully’s mise-en-scène, loud and clear is a prominent soundtrack, composed by The Sad Little Stars. The music is the perfect sidekick to spicing up the simplistic cinematography.

Perhaps the best part about Hully Gully is the sharp discourse peppered throughout. The witty quips mumbled between characters are reminiscent of early Kevin Smith, during his Clerks days. In an era where Hollywood relies too much on big budget effects to wow a crowd, D’Stair remembers that moviemaking begins with a clever script. The unfortunate interference to the director’s dialogue is a lack of sound mixing. At times, the soundtrack drowns out exchanges between characters. Another deficiency is the muffled mics muddying up Reggie’s (possibly fake) British accent. I’d imagine an investment in sound gear would highlight this talented writer.  

Watching Hully Gully felt a bit like being a third wheel to an average, American couple. Daphne and Reggie discuss their daily habits, critique one another and shamelessly and indulge in bad behaviors together. However, at the end of the day, all of their basic needs are met. This is hardly a riveting film, but it is far more comforting to know that a common ‘American Romance’ according to D’Stair is Daphne and Reggie of Hully Gully, rather than Amy and Nick from Gone Girl.