Writer: Nor Inayah AriffinWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
NACinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Akhirat" is supposed to be a romantic drama about a pure and virtuous maiden Mira (Vanidah Imran) who struggles to keep her life going amidst the fact that she is HIV-positive. Being so pure and so virtuous, she did not get HIV by sleeping around or from drugs. She was, of course, raped. Determined to keep her affliction a secret from her husband, Amran (Tony Eusoff), she tries to set him up with her wild and troubled half-sister, Noni (Nabila Huda), so that when she dies he wouldn't be alone.
What this movie turned out to be was quite different from what it seemingly intended originally. Where there should have been romance, there was comedy, albeit unintentional. Where drama was supposed to be, there was melodrama, which is NOT the same thing. A melodrama makes use of music ('melos
') or a soundtrack to affect the audience's emotions, whereas a drama can rely on a subtler soundtrack with more dynamic and fierce performances from the actors - something this film was definitely in dire need of. In addition, the movie had a distinct Hindi flavour about it, with flamboyant dance scenes and costumes, ludicrous baddies, as well as non-stop, intense music to help each and every scene along.
The story itself is something a little different from the usual Malaysian-made film, but unfortunately, the filmmakers did not have the adequate resources to make it into a truly great local film. It isn't just about the budget; it's more about the quality of the actors, the sets, the music, and just an overall seasoned crew. One could be forgiven for thinking it was the work of film school students. The camerawork was shoddy, and was typical of melodramas or soap operas on TV - lots of close-ups and focus on expressions rather than actual movement and acting, and not at all suitable for the silver screen. The acting was stiff and robotic for the most part, with the exception of Nabila Huda. She gave a performance that was better than the rest of the mediocre cast, and felt like the only real, genuine character of the bunch.
The "romantic" scenes between Mira and husband Amran were laughable, as they came across more as awkward high school sweethearts engaging in the dating game for the first time, rather than grown-up newlyweds. The character of Mira came across as annoyingly naive, and the scene that hints at the rape was supposed to set up the whole storyline as to how she got infected, yet it felt so out of place in the movie and not properly executed, as though they quickly added it in to make sure the story flowed. In reality, such a scene is not needed - in fact, they could have omitted it altogether and revealed it in flashbacks so as to create suspense for the audience, rather than revealing everything in such a boring, linear fashion.
Furthermore, when Amran desperately wants to consummate their marriage (not being able to do so earlier as he was called to duty immediately after they wed) and Mira resists him, what should be an emotional, tense scene instead made the audience dissolve into laughter when Amran passionately declares in thickly-accented English, "I want to make love!"
The rest of it pretty much goes on like that, but naturally the story wouldn't be complete without a moral. Mira's half-sister Noni sees the error of her ways after discovering the truth about Mira, and turns good, gets hitched and gets pregnant - everything Mira would have wanted and deserved. The father in the film basically goes around spouting cliches disguised as advice, everyone realises he was right, and they all pretty much live happily ever after.
That being said, I think it is a wonderful first foray into the world of the silver screen for the production company, though they have a long way to go and much to learn about the business of filmmaking. Despite all its flaws, I hope they can keep going, perfecting their work and polishing their techniques, and maybe, in the future, come up with a wonderful film we can be proud of.Cinema Online, 23 September 2008