If it were possible for Nicholas Sparks and Rod Serling to collaborate on a movie, the result might be “Pali Road,” a modestly budgeted and involving love story with an eerie twist.
Taiwanese star Michelle Chen is Lily, a young, single doctor in a busy Honolulu hospital who seems to have a fulfilling life. She has a great career in a gorgeous city and a handsome, adoring boyfriend, Neil (Jackson Rathbone, “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”) – a dedicated teacher in a ramshackle grade-school – who wants to marry her.
But a car accident upends everything.
When she wakes up, the world she knew has vanished. Instead, she now lives in a huge home with her boss and husband, Mitch (Sung Kang, “Fast and Furious”), with whom she has a 5-year-old son. Neil doesn’t exist and no one knows who he is. Which is the real world and which is the fantasy? Neither? Both? Or is she simply going crazy?
Those are the questions director Jonathan Lim and writers Doc Pedrolie and Victoria Arch slyly tease viewers with in this engrossing Hawaii-Chinese co-production. Adding to the appeal is the ability of Lim and cinematographer Quyen Tran to make the Hawaiian landscape seem both beautiful and threatening, an element rarely seen in Hollywood’s picture-postcard portrayals of the islands.
At a time of controversy over Asian images in the media and Hollywood employing white actors in Asian roles, it’s also good to see Asian-American and Asian actors in an English-language film aimed at a broad American audience that doesn’t revolve around their ethnicity.
After all, love knows no boundaries – except maybe those imposed by the human mind. Both Sparks and Serling would be proud.
Cast: Michelle Chen, Jackson Rathbone, Sung Kang, Henry Ian Cusick
Director: Jonathan Hua Lang Lim
Length: 94 minutes