Tuesday, 16 September 2008


Sorry …. I know I have been a bit slack with my DVD reviews (and gardening tips) so in the next coming weeks I will try to post my opinion on some of the movies I have watched in the last month or two. Hopefully I remember what they were.

Anyway, last week (I can still remember this, thank god) I watched a Malaysian production titled ‘THE RED KEBAYA’(FYI, a kebaya is a short blouse worn with a long skirt or sarong, by Malay women). It has been nearly 15 years since I have watched a new Malaysian movie (my mum bought me some P Ramlee movies last year) and I was very surprised to see it on sale at JB Hifi. Mind you, I paid $28.95 for the DVD so I was hoping that it would be good and I was not TOTALLY disappointed.

The movie is a Malaysian period drama set in the 1950s and is directed by Oliver Knott and produced by Andre Berly and Ramli Hassan. In summary, the story begins with Latiff (Ramli Hassan, who is also the producer) a famous but lonely photographer who was orphaned as a child. He decides to photograph abandoned houses around Malaysia as his latest project and on his journey, he is haunted by images and sounds that that he cannot comprehend. He comes to the island of Penang and ‘sees’ a red kebaya in an antique shop window. As he enters the shop to inquire about the dress, he has a sense of ‘déjà vu’ when he meets the shop owner and is told that there is no red dress in the window. Latiff is then mesmerised by a photograph he finds in the shop and goes to visit the house, which is now derelict on the foothill of Penang Hill (on the island of Penang).

Latiff finds himself transported to the past and witnesses a shocking event that occurred there. Through his experience, Latiff comes to understand the significance of the Red Kebaya and the tragic circumstances that led to him being orphaned.

In the flashback, Latiff is transported to the era during the British colonisation of Malaya, about 50 years ago. He sees an Englishman who is trapped in a controlled and stifling marriage with his xenophobic wife. When the wife, Davinia (Samantha Schubert), briefly leaves Malaya for England, John Reynolds (Bob Mercer), becomes involved with a beautiful joget dancer, named Azizah (Vanidah Imran) - until a tragedy occurs.

I would not say that it was an excellent movie but it has a great storyline and would have been a great movie if it was executed properly. In my opinion, Ramli Latiff was a bit stiff in his role, maybe because of the language – he tried too hard to articulate his speech; in other words, to speak the queen’s English. Vanidah played her part pretty well but I believe that her role should have been made slightly more coy when she meets Mr Reynolds (Bob Mercer) for the second time.

Bob Mercer got better in his acting as his role progressed but I think it was part of the role he played. However, Samantha Schubert stole the limelight as the detestable Davinia Reynolds, portraying a woman who obviously did not like the ‘colonies’ and found the locals to be beneath her. She played the part of a woman scorned to perfection. My main grievance was with regards to the role of Patrick Teoh, the antique shop owner. I believe the director should have introduced his role better in the movie. I could not connect to the significance of his presence in the movie.

Having said this, would I watch this movie again? For sure. And I would recommend you do too if you enjoy period films. The movie will give you a sense of nostalgia.


Jun said...

Vin..hate to say this..i seldom watch malay movie, wahahhaa....except bila raye, when they show it on TV..heheh. this one is nice eh! nnti kna cr la..me n family love to go to d cinema, boleh kata every month sure pergi..but this month no time la..semalam tgk DVD kat rumah citer Hancock just to layan myself while doing d ironing..hahha.

VG said...

Hi Jun

I am just like you...I also watch when I am doing housework like ironing and polishing brassware (no one like doing it so I kena buat sendiri). But I have made Saturday afternoon my DVD day, especially to watch gambar hindustan - Mr G tak suka sangat tengok :(

I recommend that you watch this movie. It is quite good. Let me know what you think.

Salt N Turmeric said...

I accidentally found out abt this last yr while googling for kebaya. The problem is, there's no way i ca find the dvd at blockbuster stores. lol.

VG said...

Hi S&T - have you tried online from Amazon? I know you have to pay extra to buy it (as oppose to renting) but I think it is worth adding to, or starting a collection.