Hula Girls

In 1966, a small coal-mining town in northern Japan began to feel the first glimmers of obsolescence. The company that owned the mines didn't want to abandon the families who had devoted their entire lives in their employ, so they decided to try something audaciously new. The mines had been plagued by hot springs that were a constant irritation, so they decided to try to make some lemonade... smile...

They put out a request for coal miners' daughters between ages 17 and 20, to volunteer for a dance troupe that would feature hula dancing. The idea was to provide the town with alternate employment by building a Hawaiian theme park AND utilize those pesky hot springs. Of course the citizens were fairly provincial and thought the dancing would be in the nude, so they tried to run the dance instructor out of town to protect their daughters.

This heartwarming story is based on the true experience of just such a town. If you are lucky enough to get the double DVD set from Netflix or your library, please watch the extras because they interview some of the original girls from that first troupe AND that instructor! I love movies that show the learning process and these extras are frosting on the cake because they include the casting of the actresses in 2006 and their learning process, before they can depict the girls from 1966 and THEIRS. It's no wonder this film won so many well-deserved awards.

"Hula gâru" is in Japanese and the captions are excellent, the acting is a little over the top (remember, it's Japanese...), and as usual, each scene always lasts just a tad longer than I find comfortable; but once again, I want to thank the JayFlix participant who made this recommendation. You're on a roll!