FLARE 2010 - 'Hot!' by Koo Chia Meng

For how loud its title screams, Hot! barely makes a strong statement. It tries to yell, but instead goes out with a whimper.

With the title blaring out connotations of sex, the promotional images more than confirm the theme of sex in the film. However, the exploration of sex in the film is done blatantly, inadequately, and almost gratuitously on the part of the director. While the film is rife with homoeroticism, one fails to see the point of it. The film plays out like a well produced soft-porn feature, with scantily clad men and women hovering all over the mansion and the pool.

A death (which is suspected by the police to be a murder) that takes place in the pool is supposed to serve as a catalyst to bring to light the personal struggles of the three main characters. The so-called discoveries of the characters’ struggles, however, are poor explored or explained. The three main characters are also inadequately fleshed out, and it is hard to have any sort of emotional connection with any of the leads, which is an instant disaster for any film that is character-driven.

Perhaps the director was trying to explore and push sexual boundaries. The camera constantly fixates on lingering looks and gentle touching between varied parties, and sex is the way the film establishes human connection. An example is when Josh tries to resuscitate the victim – when he executes CPR on the victim, his mouth stays on the victim’s mouth, almost as if he was kissing him.

The film seems to hint that Josh may have feelings or an attraction towards the victim, or perhaps even experiences homosexual attractions as suggested in the scene in the toilet, but this in itself is barely a statement anymore in local cinema and cannot be something an entire film hinges on.

The surveillance footage of the main characters being interrogated is also a curious addition. It does add a voyeuristic slant to the film, but the purpose of this remains vague. It fails to make us relate better to the characters, but instead objectifies them even more. The result is a well packaged, well produced film, but one that is void of emotional resonance and connection.

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