Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Mukhsin" in New York. The second review.

"It's the summer of 1993 in Malaysia, and a feisty 10-year-old girl named Orked and a 12-year-old boy named Mukhsin are experiencing the pangs of first love.

Their story pours forth sweetly in 'Mukhsin,' a charming and unassuming movie directed and co-written by Yasmin Ahmad.

Orked (the director's alter ego) lives with her free-spirited parents and their maid, who's treated like a member of the family. Mukhsin is spending the summer in Orked's village, along with his elder brother and aunt.

The young lovers go kite flying in an open field, and hold hands in the back seat of a VW Beetle. "Promise me you won't cut your hair," Mukhsin pleads. Ah, puppy love - doesn't it just tug at your heart.

But there's a darker side to the story, with suicide and alcoholism rearing their ugly heads. Fortunately, Ahmad - a one-time advertising copywriter - balances the good and the bad.

'Mukhsin' is the final part of the director's trilogy about Orked and her family. I am so taken by 'Mukhsin' that I'm going to hunt down the two previous movies.

In Malay, with English subtitles. Running time: 94 minutes. Not rated (mature themes). At the Museum of Modern Art, 11 W. 53rd St., through Monday."

- V.A. Musetto