Review - 'Smile' by Sharain Mohd (La Salle's Putnam School of Film Showcase)

'Smile' by Sharain Mohd is a film that tries to say a lot but struggles like a babbling infant, right to the very end. The story is about Roy who comes to live in a dilapidated flat with his father, Raheem. The premise is simple enough, but too much is squeezed into the idea--the baggage of poverty and crime, bullying at school, the many estranged ties in the Malay community, how little has changed in familial dynamics etc.--and yet, offers little in the way of essential plot explanations: where is the mother? What is Raheem's shady connections to the unsavoury character, Zack? Why is Zack living in their house? Why does Zack keep taunting Raheem? The list goes on...

Because the story drags and develops so vaguely, an unnecessary anticipation builds for a surprise ending or twist that eventually does not come, translating into disappointment and further bewilderment at what seems to be a simple lack of direction in the film.

Granted, many key plot connections seem to have been deliberately left grey and tenuous, in order to illustrate the murky depths of strained father-son relations and a father's tough love. But at close to a running time of half an hour--one of the longest of the films screened--it was really straining to watch, and tough, loving this film.

Review by Tay Huizhen
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