Monday, May 01, 2006

Review: Gubra

I watched Gubra at Mid Valley 3 weeks after its initial release date. Couldn't find the time before that, ah, what the heck...

Yasmin Ahmad's sequel to last year's Sepet, one of my all time favourite movie. It tells two unrelated stories about relationships between people: The follow up on Orked's life and another centering on a Bilal and a prostitute.

Although I enjoyed the film, I have to say that it isn't as memorable as Sepet, partly because I think it tries to tell too many plot into 2 hours. While the first film focused on the central love story between Orked and Jason, this one has infidelity, redemption, husband wife responsibility, etc.

While it is a worthy followup, the first 30 minutes borders on slapstick comedy which is kind of awkward, well for me at least. You got a sudden shock of the mother calling Orked about her dad going to die, then Arif goes on introducing the family to a nurse as though they come from The Simpsons family. The sitcom and drama just feels weird, as if it's there just for the sake of comedy. Plus, this time, her social statement is rather direct and not so subtly handled.

The chemistry between Orked and Alan is mediocre at best. It doesn't help that Alan Yun is bland...he just doesn't have Jason's instant likeability. Fortunately, the performance of the original supporting cast is fantastic, and the introduction of Adlin Aman Ramli is refreshing.

IMO the story about the Bilal and the prostitute is better handled, with subtle mix of drama and low key humour. It's definitely refreshing to see the lighter side of life of an Imam and a prostitute -- The playful banter and interaction between the Bilal and his wife, the two prostitutes with their own problems, Temah's relationship with her son -- rather than being confined to the stereotypical image. I have to give credit to the Censorship Board for approving this movie uncut.

Nam Ron as the Bilal, with his dead pan expression, is effective. The actress portraying his wife is so energetic and kind hearted it's so hard not to like her. (I think she resembles an older Cheryl Samad :P) It's a wonderful supporting performance. Lastly, the actress playing Temah is equally impressive. Her fight scene with the thief is full of tension.

The themes presented in the movie is darker and more mature than the lovey dovey mood in Sepet. Still, this film is much more emotional, several scenes just got me in tears......Yasmin Ahmad's greatest strength is portraying everyday life in the simplest manner, yet evoking the most of emotion from us. This ability alone cements her status as one of Malaysia's top film makers.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but I feel that Sepet is more superior and accessible to the mainstream. Still, Gubra gets a 4 out of 5 from me.

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