Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Thoughts on KIL

It didn't seem that long ago where I was at a friend's wedding when I met Nik Amir Mustapha - a humble guy with big dreams. He spoke about he film he was making with his friends. Two years (or thereabouts) later, that film is now screened in Malaysian cinemas. The film is edited and art directed by the talented and very driven Rewan Ishak, whom I have the outmost respect for since "The Hoppers & Ahli Muzik" many many years ago. In other words, I am very proud of them.

Knowing Malaysian films, especially quality Malaysian films which tend to not do very well - the timeframe to watch these films is usually limited. Adamant that I did not want to miss the event, today I finally found the time to catch KIL.

My opinions on the film is in no way a critique as I am no journalist and I am not film maker. This is simply a perspective from a person who enjoys film.

KIL is marketed as a "new wave" of Malaysian films. If you have interest in the wave of Malaysian films the past decade, you would know that this generalisation is not accurate. Many brilliant Malaysian films were made in the past decade. My favourites among them are Gubra, Mukhsin, Songlap and Bunohan.

However, I must admit that the marketing for such a film is unprecedented in the history of contemporary Malaysian cinema, especially for a new kid on the block. The subject matter, too, is interesting because the film touches on suicidal thoughts, and makes very little attempt to moralise such behaviour. If the local film market can accept this, kudos to Nik Amir Mustapha for achieving what so many local auteurs have tried (and failed) to achieve. The perspective on what goes through the mind of a working class urbanite in Kuala Lumpur is handled deftly, where most films would have just type-casted as 'lost souls'.

Also unexpectedly refreshing is the handling of the dialogue. Shot mostly in Malay and interjected with English expressions, the dialogue is a fair representation of how many urban Malay speak (though we probably do not look like Redza Minhat and Cristina Suzanne). There is very little 'poetry' or sophistication in the structure of the dialogue themselves (especially with Akil), perhaps deliberately so. I honestly didn't mind this at all, and thought that the unpretentious nature of the dialogue made the film more convincing.

The cinematography is very polished. Some beautiful shots, though I would have preferred if it did not look like a music video half the time. A friend of mine said the strength of the film is in its cinematography and not its screenplay. But now that I have seen it, I would actually say otherwise: the story is much better than the visuals.

The industry definitely needs more films like this, and I am sure that many of our film makers want to make films like this but were never given the opportunity to do so. Kil being successful in the box office will certainly make the industry much more vibrant and competitive.

Go watch Kil.