'Female Games' by Kan Lume - The Male review

The opening of the film - a talking head of the protagonist, rests vulnerably on an issue as thin as typical reality TV fare. To be more specific, think America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). Instead, this is Asia’s next ‘pan-Asian’ model. Evelyn Maria Ng, a pan-Asian actress shares about her aspirations as an actress in the Asian market. She shares that she hopes to get jobs in other Asian countries and will start in KL first. The film ambles around with inconsequential issues like skincare and beauty. Then, Sandy, her buddy who drives the car that will take them to KL, enters the journey almost unnoticeably. Nothing really adds to the narrative, not even the ‘nature’s call’ scene in the open grass, until they meet the Casting Director. This is where the film starts to flex its muscle and we prepare to see some blood.

The tussles between the two women seems framed into a pitting of Asian looks versus pan-Asian looks. Evelyn is the typical ‘mixed-blood’ babe everyone wants to take pictures of. Sandy has looks that are more girl-next-door standing next to Evelyn. Hence, the fact that we already know the audition outcome makes us watch on with the same anticipation as the elimination rounds of ANTM. But Asian versus Pan-Asian aside, I feel the film’s thrust was more on the occasional rivalry between women, whatever the context is. This is also where the film succeeds more and it milks a huge amount of extreme emotions from the characters, Kan Lume style (which I feel has a point-blank and raw quality to it).
In fact, Sandy’s character will take a lot of credit for my hangover thoughts of the film. Her character arc is highly-defined as she goes through some emotional extremes. Shen Qiaoyun plays it to such an intensity that it made me pity some of the things women would do. She starts off pretty much an easy-going girl who drives both the car and the conversation. It all begins to change when she realizes that her audition only lasted 5 minutes while Pan-Asian Evelyn spent 30 min in various poses in a real studio. So suspicion and paranoia follow. She starts ‘baiting’ herself to get the attention that slipped by her. It includes a hand-job, stripping and compromising her body. To top it all up, she has to share it with Evelyn, obviously to get a reaction.

If she were a little more goal-oriented, she would just have done it and advanced with her manipulative plans. Instead she chose to ‘kiss-and-tell’ which probably goes to show she might have done for the sake of attention. I wonder if getting noticed rather than achieving an objective is the cornerstone of many women’s behavioural mantra. With Sandy hogging my focus in the film, it made me think women are insecure, erratic and often subordinated. Her ‘operations’ are mostly ‘under the table’ and she psychologically prostitutes herself, so much so that it makes it easy for me to agree with a bawdy male conversation that took place between the casting director and his aide. In short, the conclusion among the men was they should never say ‘love’ to a women however much they are having a good time with them. The casting director is clearly quite a bastard here but this seems to be nullified by the fact that Sandy has been displaying 'questionable' behavior. Basically, I do smell a great deal of sexist undertones in the way Kan has designed the scenes – the solicitation, the catfights, the vulnerable moments after the drama. It has freaked me out to know what some women would do to get what they want. While, I enjoyed the drama and witnessing Kan’s ability to pit his actors against one another to get the right chemical reaction, this is where I move off Kan’s track. I do not see the how a game with female reactions under familiar situations (as mentioned) can break new grounds in a film. I did not see a substantial point in the film. But watch it like ANTM and you will lots to talk or tweet about with your friends.
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