ReviewWriter: Hanna ZainalWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
NACinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Sepet", "Gubra", "Talentime"
The late Yasmin Ahmad left a legacy that was hard to follow. She, one of Malaysia's most forward-thinking directors left a gaping hole when she passed away at the age of 51 in July 2009. Though her last movie "Talentime" was only released in March 2009, the powers-that-be, decided it appropriate to release her controversial long-awaited movie "Muallaf" in Malaysia at the end of 2009. Initially targeted for a July 2009 release, it was threatened with censorship that would affect the story's progress.
For the record, "Muallaf" had been released earlier in neighbouring Singapore to a much warm reception in December 2008 and due to the increasing demand, it was later re-released in February 2009.
Yasmin's muse, actress Sharifah Amani stars as Rohani. Tagging along for the ride is sister, Sharifah Aleysha playing as younger sister Rohana. The story tells of two Muslim sisters who are runaways from their abusive father and are forced to fend for themselves in Ipoh, Perak. Their father, a Datuk (Datuk Rahim Razali) is a partying and alcoholic man who is married to a much younger woman (Ning Baizura) with hair the size of a beehive. Their lives collide with that of Rohana's History teacher, Brian (newcomer Brian Yap) who has issues with his Catholic faith since an incident from his childhood.
Through his interactions with the two sisters, Brian rediscovers an interest in faith. The film touches on the theme of religion, family, friendship, and love. Aleysha's performance is impressive as the religious-verse quoting younger sister while Brian Yap does a commendable job in his first acting attempt. They are of course ably supported by a cast that includes veteran Razali and of course the bubbly Amani. Ning Baizura, who was offered a role in the movie after persistently urging Yasmin for any part in her movies, does justice to her role in her limited screen time. Look out for a hilarious cameo by indie director Ho Yuhang as a private investigator.
All the actors did a swell job in translating Yasmin's work to the screen. Be warned though that you might notice some not-so subtle censorship done in the movie, however it does not hinder the story much. If you've ever watched a Yasmin Ahmad film, you'd know what to expect in her usual way of concealing themes in her film without being overly patronising.
As her last movie screened in her homeland, this is without a doubt a fair way to say goodbye to the highly respected artiste that is Yasmin Ahmad.Cinema Online, 17 December 2009