Review - 'Bodies' by Nur Khuzaimah (La Salle's Putnam School of Film Showcase)

Nobody who has never seen a dead body can ever get prepared to see a real up close – the discoloured skin that looks like rubber, the unfamiliar texture of flesh when you touch it and according to Nur Khuzaimah, the director of ‘Bodies’, the unforgettable smell. Just like the director’s experience, putting a corpse undergoing embalmment, under our scrutiny was at first unsettling, but subsequently, empowering.

This was one of the more affecting films of the evening for its ability to find poetry and romanticism in the most morbid and taboo of circumstances. Juxtaposing shots of a ‘work-in-progress’ corpse in the embalmment centre with what sounds like a longing letter ‘monologue’ to a lost friend.  The monologue is read in Tagalog, yet the overhanging tone of regret and disillusionment is unmistakable. Whatever essence was lost in the subtitles, is made up by the deliberate lingering shots of the body being physically ‘retro-fitted’ to look its best to be displayed in the casket. They include the hardened elbow joints dripping with stale blood, skin being cut up and sewn back after a preservative injection and the delicate strokes of the mortician embellishing the freckled canvas of the body’s skin.

Inspiring cinematography and thoughtful shots aside, the director found an artful balance between the intimacy of a personal letter to the deceased (and to life) and the anonymity of the deceased featured in the film. The balance serves to bridge what is the personal experience of the survived and our awareness and acquaintance with mortality. The film is 6 minutes but its blood runs deep.

Review by Jeremy Sing

Check out the trailer here:

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