ReviewWriter: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang YangWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"8 Mile", "Elephant Juice", "Kami"
For too long the industry has begged for a local film that could truly sweep the audience off their feet, leaving them in a spellbound state of awe for having just watched a good movie - not just by local standards nor any of the tedious excuses we give to validate home-grown efforts - but a genuinely good movie which has the staying power beyond the few odd months needed for another instantly forgettable effort to appear. "Anak Halal" has all the ingredients to make that a cinematic possibility.
For one, "Anak Halal" is superior in content to many other Malay movies in the market for the last 20 years. Osman Ali's 12-minute short film back in 1999 is expanded into a triumphant full-length feature with enough action, drama, song, comedy and romance to confuse the genre seekers. We follow a group of close friends, made up of closet lovers Indraputra (Farid Kamil) and Jo (Maya Karin), embattled siblings Ezan (Adiputra) and Milya (Raja Farah), and jokers Shah (Remy Ishak) and Danial (Bronte Palarae). In two parallel stories, Indraputra and Jo have to deal with the introduction of a seductive minister's daughter named Atika (Fasha Sandha) to their gang while Ezan is trapped in the ganja trade with some local hoodlums (Zul Huzaimy and Jehan Miskin), peddling drug-laced burger 30 sen
to make good on an inherited debt from his dead father.
Rather ambitious in many ways, "Anak Halal" is gritty, with rape scenes, on-foot chases and even discussions on the morality and being. Due to its extensive scope, the story doesn't benefit from being divided between plot-driven and character-driven. Many scenes would seem not to belong to the same movie if viewed separately. The idyllic romance and laughter pepper the first third, only for some hard-hitting action scenes to dominate the rest, setting a somewhat uneven feel to the movie. It doesn't help that some jarring jump cuts are also present. However, the performances from the cast are largely excellent, with special mention to Adiputra who plays the 'swearing' good man. While we can find little fault in the leading ladies (Maya Karin, Raja Farah and Fasha Sandha), the menacing gangsters (Jehan Miskin and Zul Huzaimy) do suffer in believability, as they were tempted to overact.
One of the cleverer things about the film (intended or otherwise) is the very titling of "Anak Halal". It's not difficult to see the wordplay here suggesting an alternate take on the movie's characters. Are they not usually anak haram
(bad seeds), these poor people who live under bridges and on rooftops, singing songs and keeping late hours? The 'victim-of-circumstance' viewpoint is very audience-friendly in "Anak Halal", making it an admirable communicative piece outside art house film.
However, the commercial value for this movie is nevertheless delicious, being helmed by crowd favourite Maya Karin and flavour-of-the-year Farid Kamil. Special appearances from Rosyam Nor and Aziz Sattar are welcome, adding to the rich feel of the movie.
In the end, it was very fun and still one feels it that meant something this time around. "Anak Halal" could be first to ride on a new wave of thoughtful Malay films with more message than most.Cinema Online, 23 September 2008