When a vlogger suffers a serious injury on her latest adventure, her optimism and positive outlook on life get pushed to their limits as she fights to survive in Bobby Marno’s survival thriller Hope.
Life is fragile, sometimes even a person who is confident in everything they do will make a mistake and that moment will change their life forever. Hope, the main protagonist of Bobby Marno’s new film, experiences one of those moments, and we the audience experience it with her. Hope, played by the likable Sadhbh Larkin-Coyle, is a YouTube-type vlogger – an extreme adventurer who travels all over the place, climbing, swimming, and exploring. She films her exploits and posts videos online to share with her followers. The film begins by setting the scene and building Hope’s character as a sweet-yet-rebellious young woman; we see her go about her daily life, working her mundane job, and lovingly interacting with her dad. A free spirit, the 9-5 rat race is certainly not for her; all Hope lives for is her very next adventure.
Larkin-Coyle is a ray of sunshine in these early scenes but, as good as she is, these moments are full of exposition and are sometimes quite turgid to sit through. I completely understand Marno’s reasoning behind them, it’s to give us an overall perspective of Hope’s character and help us relate to her, but they slow the pace of the film down when it should be ramping things up. Plus Larkin’s natural exuberance has already cemented her likeability with the audience.
The cinematography by Matthew Åkerfeldt is stunning and the Irish scenery is photographed so beautifully, but there are a lot of incidental and establishing shots of Hope walking, hiking, and travelling through fields and meadows. They look gorgeous and help establish the vastness of the Irish wilds, and the very specific details of Hope’s journey through it, but they don’t really move the story along and, when things start to go awry a third of the way through, only the most patient of viewers will have made it.
The editing between Hope’s video blogs and real life is handled effortlessly, with the transitions smooth and quick between shots. The editing also achieves the delicate task of showing broken limbs up close and not revelling too much in the agony it takes to treat them. For the audience, the worst moments are not so much the sights (despite some great and gruesome special effects work) but the sounds that Larkin omits – her anguished screams of pain and frustration leave a lasting impression. Most of us have never heard these sounds before, but we know exactly what they mean. Full credit to the work of the sound design team who deserve a lot of praise.
Sadhbh Larkin Coyle’s performance cannot be underestimated, she does a fine job of suggesting two aspects of Hope’s character – the brash, intrepid adventurer who trusts her skills and likes taking chances, and secondly that she is logical and single-minded enough to save her own life. When the final twist is revealed, we see a brief third side to Hope and Larkin-Coyle again knocks it out of the park.
Hope remains a very watchable film because, even with my initial criticisms, everything seems to take place all in the same moment. Marno and Akerfeldt’s script targets our own fear of being trapped somewhere and realising there doesn’t seem to be any way to escape. Also, the powerful central performance remains gripping throughout. The twist is clever but doesn’t really add a great deal to an already impressive sensory overload of a film