Continuing on my journey through Aoi Yu's filmography, I arrive at this 2006 film. Hula Girls tells the story of the establishment of a large holiday spa with a Hawaiian theme in the middle of a bleak coal-mining town. The theme is a common one: people facing economic ruin find an escape through entertainment. Brassed Off and The Full Monty sprang to mind when I started watching this, although Hula Girls has the advantage of being based on a true story.
Set during the 1960s, the film begins with the mine owner's grand idea for a new tourist attraction. He is greeting by scepticism from all sides: the mining community and the dance teacher brought in from Tokyo. But as time goes on, and adversities are overcome people slowly begin to accept the idea.
Occasionally, though people seemed to change their attitudes for pretty simple reasons and with little warning. The mother of the lead character is, for most of the film, against her daughter being part of the dance group. But she only has to see her daughter dancing once to change her attitude.
But despite this, its still quite a touching film. And while most of the attention goes to Aoi Yu, I was also impressed by Yamasaki Shizuyo's performance as the shy, bumbling giant of the group. This film is a pleasant way to spend two hours and is made all the more worthwhile by the fact that you know the resort is still going, and the hula girls are still dancing after all these years.