Posted by martinteller on September 10, 2014
In Sepet, writer/director Yasmin Ahmad told the semi-autobiographical tale of Orket, a Malay teenager who falls in love with a Chinese boy. In Gubra, we see Orket and her family 7 years later, with the girl now married to a man named Arif. This conclusion of the “Orket trilogy” goes back to when she’s 10 years old. She meets Mukhsin (Mohd Syafie Naswip), a 12-year-old new arrival, living with his aunt Senah (Mislina Mustaffa) and brother Hussein (Salehuddin Abu Bakar). Mukshin’s family is fractured due to an abusive father, which weighs heavily on the angry Hussein. Mukhsin gains Orket’s favor when he invites the tomboy to participate in sport, and the two become fast friends… and feel the flowerings of first love. But a betrayal drives a rift between them.
I’m not going to say a lot about this. I don’t recommend seeing it without seeing the other two first, and if you have seen the other two, you’re probably already interested in completing the trilogy. This is the gentlest of the three films. Although there is a dark moment or two, it carries along breezily in a series of lovely anecdotes that reveal great characters with compassion. The only returning cast member is Adibah Noor as Yam, although Rozie Rashid from Gubra returns, in a role that may or may not be Temah. Sharifah Amani would have been clearly too old to pass as little Orket, but she hands off the role to her real-life little sister Sharifah Aryana, while older sister Sharifah Aleya plays the part of the mother. Despite the different actors, the chemistry among the family is as strong as ever. There’s a sexual charge to the delightful playfulness between mother and father, and the movie is highlighted with several charming comedic scenes.
Ahmad once again makes great use of music, particularly Nina Simone’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” in two scenes, linking cozy familial warmth with romantic yearning. The cinematography is bright and showcases the lush landscape. As always, there is some emphasis on intercultural relationships in Malaysian society, though it seems to be less in the forefront this time as Ahmad focuses more on the personal and nostalgic. The ending is incredibly touching and left me in tears, followed by a beautiful coda that blurs the line between reality and cinema. A sweet ending to a very dear trilogy. Rating: Very Good (88)