Sunday Matinee: Stoke [Film]

“Struggling with the sudden death of her fiancé, Los Angeles litigator Jane makes a spontaneous trip to Hawaii Island to visit an active volcano. Upon arrival, she enlists the help of two locals pretending to run an adventure tour company, and the trio embark on a cross-island road trip as weird and wild as Hawaii itself.” – P & Z Films



One thing I wasn’t expecting to learn quite a bit about when I started this site, and starting watching brilliant indie films so regularly….was the islands of Hawaii. Regular readers may remember our coverage of the brilliant film Kuleana last year where first became obsessed with the non-tourist side of the islands. And then there was our interview with former Hawaii native funny man Zak Toscani. Now we have something completely different, yet just as insightful in the film Stoke. I seriously LOVED this film. The idea of turning tourism into an emotional journey that you are soon not to forget is absolute genius. And I will be the first to admit it, I had no idea that the setting of the film even existed. Of course, I am now intrigued and HAVE to go. I guess I will one day be a part of the problem. But I digress.

Stoke delivers incredible surprises, witty dialogue mixed with a grab bag of comedic excellence, all within a tale that focuses on the pain of loss and the hardships of a reality that can be dark and disturbing, even in the sunniest of lands. And as a Pacific Northwest kid who once lived in the glorious southern region of Spain, I can attest to the fact that the mix of moodiness and excitement in Stoke is very human, and very well done.




The writing/directing team of Zoe Eisenberg & Phillips Payson are absolute force to be reckoned with Folks. They are not only a brilliant Hawaii based team of creative souls, they are simply a brilliant team that is going to continue to rock the world of independent cinema and beyond. Stoke is incredible, as I said before. And they have a project they created a few years ago entitled Throuple, that I can not speak to, but hopefully I soon will, as it also sounds incredible inspiring and brilliant. Seeing this film, knowing of the other, and knowing that the capabilities of this team is a true inspiration, and I am so excited to see what the future holds for them. Oh and, spoiler alert(?), you may be hearing more from Zoe on this very site, very soon (okay, Friday, you’ll hear from her on Friday. Okay? Cool.)

Performance wise, holy shit. Caitlin Holcombe is absolutely brilliant. And Kauhane Lopes & Randall Galius Jr. make for an incredible duo that I would definitely love to see more of in the future. Seriously, it feels strange to know that this was Kauhane’s first film role because he absolutely nailed it. And of course veteran actress Kimee Balmilero came in and absolutely KILLED as one of the few characters who seems to have her shit together.

Folks, if you have enjoyed any recommendation we have given you here, you should know that we would not lie to you all. I personally might, but not through this site! I kid, I kid. But seriously Folks, as soon as you can, check out Stoke! You seriously will not regret it!


Stoke will be available on streaming platforms on August 6th.



About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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