A self confessed ‘traumedy,’ Hallelujah is a snapshot into familial relationships. Written and directed by Victor Gabriel, and set in Compton, Hallelujah opens on two brothers arguing over the realities of them taking over the guardianship of their niece and nephew. Neither brother is ready to become a parent or at least have any kind of parental type responsibility, a fact which is not helped by their bewilderment at their eccentric nephew Hallelujah who loves books, hates fried chicken and appears to be having some sort of existential crisis. As the film progresses, the audience comes to learn the exact circumstances of how the two children have ended up in their care.
With a running time of less than fifteen minutes, you could be forgiven for assuming that Hallelujah has too scant of a running time to allow the audience to become attached to the characters within it. However, the film very quickly establishes characteristics and qualities that are recognisable. Whether those characteristics are those that we recognise within ourselves or within our family members, Hallelujah has a stark realism and authenticity to it.
The authenticity of Hallelujah is bolstered by its visuals. With its golden tones, the film screams California and the contrast between the bright sunshine and the serious issues raised works as an interesting chiaroscuro.
Hallelujah is a film all about halves though and two things working together, or conversely against each other. Just as there is the light of the film’s visuals against the darkness of some of its topics, there is also the different sibling relationships. There are the two brothers and there are the two siblings that they must now take care of. The film is also split into two tones and whilst there is comedy and wit in the dialogue, Hallelujah is also tragic and deals with death and grief.
Gabriel was inspired to make Hallelujah from his own experiences with grief and shot the film in his own neighbourhood. Gabriel’s closeness and familiarity to both the film’s topics and the setting in which the film takes place shines through in the execution and it is clear that this is a film that is close to his heart. Already making waves on the festival circuit, Hallelujah looks set to continue to make an impact with its story of a family pulling together in the toughest of circumstances in spite of their worries, fears and differences.
Director: Victor K. Gabriel
Writer: Victor K. Gabriel
Stars: Bruce Lemon, Richard Nevels, Stephen Laroy Thomas
Runtime: 14m Country: United States