Monday, September 29, 2003

Movie Review: Cinta Kolesterol

It has been a while since my whole family went out to the local cinema to watch a movie together. Partly it is because everyone in the family has their own preference on the subject of what movies they like to watch. So you can imagine that it is hard to find a movie that everyone can agree with to go and see it as part of a family outing. So when the opportunity presented itself last weekend, we all decided as a family to go out to the local cinema and watch the latest movie currently showing. The decision of which movie to watch as a family took awhile as we had the ideas and input from 8 people to consider but in the end we all decided to watch the latest local production, “Cinta Kolesterol”.

“Cinta Kolesterol” (CK) is the latest local Malay movie production released by Metrowealth Productions in conjunction with KRU Motion Pictures and Erra Fazira Productions. This film was directed by Prof Madya Abdul Razak Mohaideen who is a locally renowned director with several other previous film productions under this belt. The primary characters in this movie were portrayed by Yusry Abdul Halim, Erra Fazira, Aleeza Kassim, Farid Kamil and Abu Bakar Omar. I believe that this film was just recently released for screening in the past 2 weeks but I have to admit that I am amazed at the crowd that this production was pulling in with each screening. We actually had a full house on the day that we went to see CK and I actually overheard someone while in queue to buy popcorn that this was her 5th viewing. Although I had my reservations about watching this movie, it was quickly replaced by intrigue after hearing that comment.

The drama-comedy “Cinta Kolesterol” tells the story of Yusry and Fazira, unimaginative character names played by Yusry Abdul Halim and Erra Fazira respectively, who were arranged to be married by their fathers at the tender age of 9 years old. Although Yusry’s father, Haji Zaini, played by Abu Bakar Omar, had initial reservations about the proposal, he later relented and agreed with the request made by Dato’ Osman, Erra’s father who was played by Farid Kamil, who felt indebted to Yusry after he saved his daughter’s life from an accidental drowning. Since the two people in question were too young to understand this family promise, it was decided that this arrangement will only be made know to both Yusry and Erra in a later date.

The movie then fast forwards to 20 years later where we meet a handsome and well educated Yusry who just came back from London after completing his studies. His return prompted his father to tell him the promise that he had made with Erra’s father and that Yusry should meet with Fazira again to reacquaint with each other before marrying her. Since he has not seen her in seven years, Yusry was very excited to see his childhood friend again but that enthusiasm quickly faded away when he discovered that in his absence, Fazira has grown into a relatively obese person with a big heart who was constantly eating. Predictably Yusry was repulsed by what he had to marry to and quickly tried to distance himself from Erra. Although Erra tried her best to please Yusry, he was unable to look beyond her appearance and continued to painfully ignore her. The relationship came to a boil when Yusry very publicly humiliated Erra about her appearance which caused Erra to run off to Europe to undergo treatment for her obesity.

The subsequent death of Yusry’s father no long after caused Yusry to reconsider what he had done to Erra. Feeling the burden of his guilt at what he had done, Yusry tried to search for Fazira and fulfill the promise that his late father made to Fazira’s family. His efforts continued to be fruitless until a year later when he first set eyes on Erra, the latest hot model on the local catwalk, who was a splitting image of Fazira albeit much more slimmer and attractive. Yusry was convinced that Erra was actually Fazira after losing most of her weigh and proceeded to pursue her who in turn returned the favor by publicly ignoring and ridiculing him as he did to Fazira in the past. Brokenhearted and repentant, Yusry decided to give up trying to ask of Fazira’s forgiveness for all the things that he has done in the past and leave the city to heal his wounds. However, before he could go, there was still one last unfinished business with Fazira that he had to attend to that will change his life forever.

One of the draws of this movie is the much-hyped makeup work done by Fido Films from Sweden who designed the body suit and appliances to transform the normally svelte Erra Fazira into the almost unrecognizable 120kg woman she portrays on screen. This was the first time that a local production has attempted such major use of make up effects for the entire length of the movie and I have to say that overall I find the effect well done. Erra seemed to be comfortable enough (or as comfortable as she could be) in the full makeup to showcase her talent though layers of hot and restrictive latex. Her body movements in the full body suit of the character were completely natural and her facial expression was clearly visible through all the glue and latex. I had a problem with the way her character was written in the beginning as it shown the character as a whiny and spoilt child who frankly speaking started to grate on my nerves shortly after the beginning. It was good that her character began to change as she realizes who she was being treated by Yusry.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to see Yusry Abdul Halim’s portrayal of a young man caught between family responsibility and his own pursuit of happiness. I’ve only seen him act in a film once before which has his first movie and I can attest that his acting skill has improved significantly since then. This movie shifts his character from being obnoxious and superficial to an honest and likable person towards the end. Yusry managed to carry his portrayal successfully through the gamut of personas that the audience ended up rooting for him at the end of the movie although most would be ticked off at the character’s previous treatment of Fazira. Since the chemistry between the two main leads was actually the product of their off-screen married life, it goes without saying that both played against each other’s performance beautifully and continued to maintain that level through out the movie.

I have to say that there are parts in the movie when the make-up could have been better especially those involving close-ups of the hands. At times, the hands looked unnatural compared to Erra’s face and body which unfortunately shatters the illusion of Erra Fazira as a fat person. I also found that there are parts of the script that asked the audience to expand their tolerance for suspension of belief. For one, I find it hard to believe that the fathers were so easily agreeable on the proposed arranged marriage of their young children but I guess that it had to be in the script as a plot point to move the story. I also lamented the missed opportunity of making Erra’s character as less whiny person and instead make her comfortable with her weight so that the audience could quickly empathized with her character from the first moment we see her. We do see a strong and proud side of her character when she verbally spars with her competitor for Yusry’s affection but unfortunately it came too late and to short to register the impact.

Good acting from the cast and interesting makeup work notwithstanding, I have to frankly say that I was very close to give up on this movie. Towards the end of the movie, it had the feeling of a retread of the same old ugly duckling storyline that we have seen countless of time before. I’ve already predicted that the boy will get the girl in the end and all will be well with the universe like many movies of the same genre. It was a good thing that I never walked out of a movie before no matter how boring or predictable it was or else I would have missed the best twist in the story that I have ever seen in a Malay movie ever. To tell what the twist in the story was in the end would totally spoil the movie for anyone who has not seen it but suffice to say it bold, imaginative and made the movie 5 times better that I would ever expect it. You just have to sit through the whole movie to really appreciate it.

All in all, “Cinta Kolesterol” was generally well written and acted local Malay film. While there were some parts in makeup and screenplay that could have been done better, in general it was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon with either family or just yourself. The twist at the end of the movie was imaginative and bold which really made the movie for me as an audience and a person who was long bored by other clich├ęd local productions. I also agree that this charming local production does merit a second viewing to try to pickup some subtle clues that seemed to be scattered in the 3rd act leading to the end of movie twist. If you could only watch one local Malay mainstream movie this year, I would highly recommend “Cinta Kolesterol”

Rating: 4/5 stars

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