Another interesting aspect to Every Day in Kaimuki is that even though it is set in Hawaii, this story feels like it could unfold anywhere. Thankfully, the filmmakers made a picture that is not for those in a quest for exotism… and that is great for various reasons! Spotlighting one’s culture is very important, and Tengan does a great job at adding local elements in meaningful but subtle ways.
“…captures the feelings of many migrants, or soon-to-be migrants, viscerally and accurately.”
Every Day in Kaimuki is an authentic post-2020 tale, as it unfurls during the pandemic era, with masks worn probably ⅓ of the film (and guess what; we hear everyone perfectly!). The many health protocols, regulations, and general precautions related to Covid-19, such as distant hugging or video chat hangouts, are integral parts of the story. Sure, the inclusion of masks and the virus will take some people in need of escapism out of it, which is a bit sad as it reminds us that this indeed is the “new normal.” Still, it is refreshing as, so far, most films set in the present days are either illustrating how people learned about the virus and dealt with lockdowns or pretending it never happened, rather than us living with it “normally” and casually hearing updated case counts every day on the news.
Was Tengan’s full-length debut about a skater boy in an existential crisis trying to fly to NYC with his cat inspired by true life? I don’t know, but it captures the feelings of many migrants, or soon-to-be migrants, viscerally and accurately. It also wonderfully highlights the emotions and bittersweetness of everyday relationships with partners, friends, and people you meet along the way. But in the end, Every Day in Kaimuki is a film about the urge to move, discover new things, and in the process find yourself and where you fit in and feel less lonely and better understood, even if that means moving to an unknown place full of strangers.
"…a journey overflowing with emotion."