Thursday, March 03, 2005

Eyes Wide Sepet

Tomorrow, I leave for London (yes, this sounds sudden, but I've been planning it for a while now). Just a mere excursion, but I am hoping to accomplish several goals. I won't elaborate on those goals, because I believe that if i reveal them, I will never accomplish them. Funny. Never thought of myself as being supersticious. Most importantly, I will elaborate on those goals after I have safely returned from my excursion (this is an understatement), a month from now. Wish me luck. By the way, I will attempt to post regularly whilst I'm away, in case something interesting pops to mind.

I had a few important matters to attend to today. Namely was watching the much touted movie, Sepet. A movie is good, if it has a good plot, good acting, good script, and resonable editing and directing. A great movie, in my opinion, is one that you can absolutely relate to, plus all of the above. Sepet engages you from the very beginning, with very mundane, but clever scenes and cuts. Again, the core of the movie is portraying familiarity of everyday life to the viewer.

However, I thought throughout the entire feature, that everything was a bundle of contradictions. Not in a horrible way, but more in a Ying-Yang, balance of life and nature way. Everything, from the backdrops, the scenery, to the characters and their attitudes had so much of a stereotype as well as de-stereotype about them that makes you tingle in confusion all over. Everything seemed, to me, both reality and fantasy. Both real and made up. Orked (I keep on pronouncing her name as Ork-ed instead of Or-ked) for instance, was both conservative and liberal. Ah-Loong looked to be the typical Ah-beng, until he opened his mouth to reveal excellent english and supreme manners.

Even more unlikely is the relationship that Ah-Loong shares with his friend Keong. Though it has its very realistic ye-hei (honor amongst friends) and believable friendship elements, it also has a very unrealistic use of English as the main medium of communication ( I spent 5 years of my life in Ipoh, and I have never ever heard 2 chinese guys talking to each other in anything but cantonese or some other chinese dialect). Some scenes too, were totally queer, like the telephone chat between the friends toward the end of the movie.

But picking on the nitty bitty details doesn't and will not do the movie justice. Sepet, to me, has to be watched as a whole. Only then will one appreciate its true meaning, and how wonderful each and every event in the movie is tied to one another. I feel personally, that the theme of the movie, while centering on the on-screen couple, is not about the inter-racial love affair at all. The love affair between Orked and Ah-Loong is only meant to tie the movie together and thus is a distraction from its true message, which is the binding and loving institution known as the family.

I can't help but feel envy having seen the bond between Ah-Loong and his mother as well as Orked and her parents. Both sets of elderly are portrayed as guiding, loving, caring and compassionate people. Both sets display the common goal of enriching their young and guiding them toward doing the right thing. Both parents, are ideally what parents should aspire to be like. The scrabble scene was especially touching to me because of the closeness and bond that was displayed by Orked and her parents (Rare is the sight of a family so physically loving without being labelled incestuous). Even the baddie in the movie held firm to the family if not in his own underworld way. And as wrecked as Ah-Loongs family was, they kept with the tradition of eating together as a family, the symbol of family unity.

As to what Sepet should make you feel, that is entirely personal, depending on how you view the movie. For me, it made me appreciate my parents more, even in their shortcomings. As for the inter-racial affair, you have to be in one to know how difficult it is, and how your parents, and his/her parents, will never be like Ah-Loong's mother and Orked's parents, the understanding, universal, pillars of support for their children. All you'll get, are many many versions of Ah-Loong's father, the man that coughed and almost choked on his dinner when he was told that a malay girl called for his son (My favorite scene).

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