Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Journey

If there was anything that surprised me over the past weekend, it was to discover that when politics do not interfere with film-making, The Journey was indeed a very good film. 

My wife and I took time out to watch this movie with my daughter and found the cineplex almost fully packed with people even though more than a month had passed since it first started screening nation-wide on 30 Jan 2014. That's the eve of Chinese New Year.

Yes, it is still pulling in the crowds and as I understand it, The Journey has become the biggest box-office movie for a local Malaysian production, grossing RM15 million to date, and still collecting.

There are already way too many reviews of this movie on the Internet and I really wouldn't want to add my own opinion to all the accolades, but I think that I must still comment somewhat about it.

But first, to my friends in Singapore, I would like to urge you to catch the screening of The Journey in your local cinemas from the 20th of March.

The Journey is a story of many themes that I'm told are all so familiar to us: family, heritage, culture, traditions, expectations, forgiveness and acceptance. To which I would like to add nostalgia, sentimentality, life's impermanence, the ability to look hard at oneself and heart-warming old friendships that cannot be severed with the passing of time.

The film was shot in many locations around the country but it thrilled me to no end when the Penang Bridge loomed up on the big screen, followed by sequences at the Chew Jetty and one of the ferries in George Town. But my delight was somewhat dampened when the characters opened their mouths to speak and what came out was not Penang Hokkien but some other variation of the southern Hokkien language. For goodness' sake, why can't the movie's producer make the show more realistic by adopting authentic Penang Hokkien especially for the sequence filmed here? That was my main beef about the movie.

And another beef was that I couldn't understand half of the show because there weren't any English sub-titles. Besides, the Malay sub-titles flashed by way too fast for me. I finally gave up trying to read the Malay sub-titles, because it interfered with the developments on the screen, and decided to simply sit back and just enjoy the film.

Yes, I did laugh as the show progressed, demonstrating that you don't really need to understand the language when all unfolding before you are the daily, familiar aspects of our daily lives. (Actually, no, the hot-air balloon of recycled plastic bags doesn't occur naturally in our daily lives at all but what the heck, that was the director's creative licence if you know what I mean....)

P.S. Even if you don't understand the storyline at first, you will definitely enjoy the brilliant cinematography. And maybe, pine for your old hometown.

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