When we first see the 17-year old Hala, she is in the bathtub pleasuring herself. It isn”t the right image to introduce us to her. Hala is sexually curious, yes. But she is no libidinous adventuress. She is a calm, curious poetess, cruising the world on a skiboard, whose eyes convey the suffering of a soul far older and world-weary than she.
Somehow, the well-meaning but clichéd representation in “Hala” of a young Pakistani-American girl”s experiences never go beyond the tropes and the signposts. Conservative Pakistani parents, welcoming though culturally curious friends in school, liberal Caucasian friends in school — didn”t we see all of that in Gurinder Chadha”s “Blinded By The Light” recently?