Sepet

Girl is well-off and sheltered. Boy sells pirated DVD at the market. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Trial and tribulations await, and it’s not just the difference in status. If you’re not used to South East Asian faces, (I’m not good either and that’s where I’m from. Shame.) you might not notice it, but they’re of different races – he’s Chinese (hence the slitty eyes, which translates to the titular Sepet) and she’s a native Malay.

What a cute gem. This is the only Malaysian movie that I’ve seen, and I’m glad that I chose well. The movie’s directed by Yasmin Ahmad, starring Sharifah Armani and Ng Choo Seong. Official site here. And Yasmin’s notes on her blog about the movie somewhere on this page.

The movie doesn’t lie – interracial relationship is hard. I’m not Malaysian myself, but coming from a neighbouring country with pretty close cultural background this is a big deal, especially with religion differences and socio-economic background; with her as an all-round good girl and he as a… what, ex-gangster?  (actually details are a bit fuzzy since I watched this 2 years ago) Kudos to the way the relationship is handled; sensitively, sensibly, lovingly. The ending is befitting, ambigous with a bittersweet aftertaste.

I am charmed by the overall ambience, the feel-good, laidback and natural quality helped by the music selection. It’s full of cute. Somehow it elevates above ordinary but you can’t describe exactly how. Eye candy factor? She’s pretty, he’s… well… charming. The type of guy whose looks are ordinary at first but grows on you, the type who doesn’t try but looks cool anyway. There’s a calm, dignified quality about this DVD seller that intrigues me, his charm effortlessly reaches the audience and it’s a great performance from a non-actor.

It is not a perfect movie, in the sense that it’s a little confused of what it wants to be. There are scenes that just looks a bit out of place and plain awkward, sometimes bits of unneccessary melodrama, that clearly doesn’t match the sweet, lighthearted general tone. This movie is made by Yasmin Ahmad, an acclaimed Malaysian director (I belatedly found out about her passing and thought, what a loss), who definitely aces in portraying the idiosyncrasy and the authenticity of the Malaysian flavour (especially that of the Malay family); a mix of different cultures and religions, where different languages and dialects mix seamlessly even in a household,

Overall, nice little movie with great ambience and charismatic main characters. 7/10

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About toopai
part time couch potato, full time movie and drama enthusiast.

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