Love Conquers All

What does not kill you makes you stronger

Shelly Kraicer on Love Conquers All   by admin
Reviews 2007-09-20 16:00:09

Malaysian director Tan Chui Mui's first feature comes trailing an impressive collection of awards: first prizes from Pusan, Rotterdam and Hong Kong, to name a few. This ultra-low-budget narrative of a young woman's arrival in Kuala Lumpur feels both utterly fresh and completely inevitable. Its magic is to have found a way to show us what we've never quite noticed before: Tan's camera's patient, intense, intimate (dare one say specifically female-gendered?) way of looking exposes truths that, once we notice them, seem always to have been there, just underneath, practically hidden, until we adopt the film's and director's new ways of looking.

Ah Ping (a splendid debut by Coral Ong, who acts with natural physical authority) arrives in Kuala Lumpur and immediately is absorbed into its marginal society: she works at a food stand, shares a bunk bed with an acerbically cute little niece, and coos long distance to her boyfriend back home. When roguishly charming John appears (Stephen Chua, all too convincing), his overtures to her, all cocky charm laced with a barely perceptible menace, seem almost irresistible. What follows is both shocking and entirely predictable.

Tan films with a natural authority that belies the fact that this is her first feature. Working with cinematographer James Lee and editor Ho Yuhang (both notable filmmakers in their own right), she creates images with punch and depth, revealing glimmers of a ruthlessly poetic soul.


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Love Conquers All

"You don't have a choice. Unless you jump." John said.
She opened the car door, looked out, hesistated.
Jumping is too painful. And it is dark ahead and it is dark behind. So she closed the door.
And then it is too late to jump anyway.

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