Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Mukhsin" in New York. The first review.

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"Malaysian filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad tells deeply personal and intensely humanistic stories based largely on her own experiences.

For her fourth film, 'Mukhsin', she revisits the loving and liberal family of her previous features, continuing her portrait of one woman’s journey from childhood through adolescence and marriage.

It’s summer vacation, and the 10-year-old Orked (Sharifah Aryana Syed Zainal Rashid), a multilingual tomboy more interested in playing soccer than brides-and-grooms, is thrilled when a new boy arrives in the village. The boy, Mukhsin (Muhammad Syafie bin Naswip), may be only two years older, but his troubled home life and rising hormones give him an emotional complexity that Orked and their growing friendship are ill equipped to manage.

Deceptively simple and threaded with gentle humor, 'Mukhsin' paints the turmoil of puppy love on a canvas of family relationships as delightful as it is believable.

With a free-spirited English-speaking mother and a father who helps with housework (“Malays who have forgotten their roots,” grumbles a local busybody), Orked’s family is as likely to arouse envy as it is disapproval. This is exemplified by a pregnant neighbor who is hauling laundry while her philandering husband polishes his motorcycle.

“How nice to be a motorcycle,” she murmurs resignedly, in a moment that perfectly captures the film’s calm acuity and its maker’s empathy for those whose dreams may never come true.

MUKHSIN

Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan."

- JEANNETTE CATSOULIS, Published: May 28, 2008