Busan Review: Boluomi is a journey of suffering through war-torn Malaysia

Busan Review: Boluomi is a journey of suffering through war-torn Malaysia

There are movies that you enjoy for educational reasons because you are aware of aspects of our confusing world that have caught your attention so far. And Asia's leading film festival in Busan is particularly well placed to learn more about the historical and current challenges of this vastly complex continent through its film selection. But while you can certainly do so by watching the debut film of Chinese-Malaysian filmmaker Lau Kek Huat and Taiwanese actress / director Vera Chen, the experience itself proves to be less than executive.

At the center of Boluomi is young man Wu Yi-Fan (played by Wu Nien-Hsuan), nicknamed Boluomi after the popular tropical jacket in Southeast Asia. Yi-Fan was born in the middle of a decade-long guerrilla war held by the Communist Party in the Malay jungle. Like many other babies born of this fate, he was sent out of the jungle for safety and raised by a few good local Samaritans. Moving fast as a teenager, Yi-Fan could not enter any Malaysian university in China and decided to move to Taiwan again. The discrimination did not end with what she found in the many mental jobs she met with other exploited migrant workers desperately looking for a better life, including Laila Ulao, a single mother in the Philippines.

If this brief did not make Boluom sound like Disney music, I would have done at least some of my work correctly. Describing in detail the everyday difficulties that society faces among the least fortunate and indiscriminate, the film is a rather poor journey. It shows you war-torn Malaysia, where children go through so many families that they can hardly wave more than witness their "parents." It depicts modern Malaysia, where racial injustice is so widespread, one can hope to have systematic opportunities despite talent and hard work. It exposes Taiwan's widespread apathy and abuse of vulnerable immigrants, the center of relative wealth and supposedly liberal democratic values, which gave so many false hopes in neighboring countries that they could no longer afford to be abandoned. All of this is certainly valuable knowledge. In a broader socio-political context, the film also illustrates how immigration-related human rights abuses are not limited to the Western Hemisphere, but are also part of the quiet daily routine of the Far East.

However, Boluomi & jbsp; just the triumph of storytelling. The scenario is too busy providing anecdotal information to build a structure or hook. The recurring black-and-white flashes of the protagonist's childhood are a nice touch, constantly adding depth and detail to this furiously independent young man we see. But at some point, the tragedy begins to feel overwhelmed, where the combined effect is not emotional but fatigue. Possible editing integrates both past and present stories smoothly enough, but can't do much to save the whole confusing narrative. It also doesn't help that the dedicated director's performances are never really forced or that the film is quite unimaginable.

Now, before anyone calls me restless and heartless, I will say that there are some exciting moments in the film that also work kinetically. The night before the first adopters of little Yi-Fan returned him to his unborn mother, a Malay-speaking and God-worshiping father comforted a child with simple affirmations and a smile with whom he was unrelated. This is a scene removed from pure kindness that probably touched me more than any other obviously tragic. Later in the film, when Laila said goodbye to an illegal massage salon worker from Vietnam who escaped to Taiwan through her deceased sister's identity card and a fake marriage, tears fell on two sparse stranded souls who can't even communicate properly with everyone. others also seemed painfully real. & nbsp; & nbsp;

This is obviously a very personal project for the writer / co-director Lau, who dedicated it to his grandparents. And although I wouldn’t call it Boluomi & nbsp; to shape the narrative successfully, I applaud the courage and generosity to share such intimate perspectives and observations as a permanent outsider. Such stories must be told.

Boluomi was screened at the Busan International Film Festival.
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