AppleTV+ has released the trailer for Minhal Baig’s drama Hala. The film follows Pakistani American teenager Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan) trying to come to grips with her community and upbringing as she makes a startling discovery about her father.
I caught the film at Sundance earlier this year, and while I had high hopes for it due to the subject matter and Viswanathan in the lead, I felt slightly underwhelmed by the lack of character development and clear storytelling. From my review:
What I liked most about Hala and what I wish it did more was simply let me into Hala’s life and show me what it’s like to be a Muslim teenager in the present day. It’s a culture and upbringing I wanted to understand better, but in Hala, there’s never enough texture or nuance to her life. Hala’s room is barely decorated, and I didn’t know if that was because of her upbringing or if that was the character’s decision. I know Hala likes skateboarding, is good at writing, and has friends, but in Baig’s hands, these feel like traits in search of a personality. I spent an entire film following Hala, and I know what she does and what she wants, and yet I still don’t feel like I know who she is. Is she funny? Is she shy? How much freedom does she have to define her interests and how much of her life is constrained by her parents? I wanted to know more, and yet Hala focuses on the conflict while missing the character.
All that being said, with Hala coming to AppleTV+, it’s a low bar to admission. Apple is pretty much giving away AppleTV+ to anyone who buys an Apple product, so if you’ve got the service, you may want to give Hala a shot.
Check out the trailer below. Hala arrives on AppleTV+ on December 6th.
Here’s the official synopsis for Hala:
Seventeen-year-old Pakistani American teenager Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan) struggles to balance desire with her familial, cultural and religious obligations. As she comes into her own, she grapples with a secret that threatens to unravel her family. Written and directed by Minhal Baig and executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith, “Hala” was an official selection of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.