[Now that I have seen it I am so sorry that I missed seeing it with the audience at FanTasia. Crowd pleaser doesn't begin to cover it]
Rafflesia (Jerrica Lai) hosts a television show for the FONY network which focuses on the arts. The show isn't a ratings winner and the network's directors are threatening to cancel her program and replace it with a reality show. On what could be her last show her ex-boyfriend, a terminally ill poet, dies on camera while reading a poem he wrote for her. The reaction is enormous and Rafflesia has a new idea for a reality TV show. She will interview everyday folks on their deathbeds.
Meanwhile, Eric (Peter Davis), is the chief product engineer in FONY's electronics division. He has a problem. His new invention, the Super Soya Maker, has no problems. That's the problem. He needs to find a way to make his new device break down right after the guarantee expires or he's out of a job. You cannot make money if everything you sell lasts forever. Too bad for him he's also crushing on Rafflesia and she couldn't be more uninterested in him. If he doesn't' catch her drift she'll even sing it out to him as long as it gets the message across.
This incredible debut is written and directed by Yeo Joon Han who displays an incredible eye for detail. Not only is his film well written but it looks amazing as well. It is clear that Yeo Joon Han is a technically proficient filmmaker with a good eye for location and he knows exactly how he wants to frame each shot. His screenplay pokes fun at consumerism, popular media, the corporate mindset and the quest for fame. There were moments in the script where I thought of shows like The Thick of It [less swearing] and Absolute Power. Sharp and witty dialogue prevails especially when the FONY bosses have a go at Peter or Rafflesia.
And then you have the musical numbers. I know! Musical numbers! Yeo Joon Han even wrote the songs and they are damn catchy too. I've had one of them in my head the entire day after watching it. There is even a number done Karaoke style so if the audience is brave enough they can sing along as well, which apparently the audience in Montreal did during the screening during FanTasia. It is but one of many sheer genius moments in the film.
I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to take a Malaysian film that is spoken almost entirely in English. In fact I was completely ignorant of this until I started watching the film. But unlike previous efforts by other well known directors to have Asian actors do their dialogue in English only to have it become a major hurdle for the actors and the audience to get through everyone on screen has near perfect fluency in the language. Peter Davis does sometimes sound like Warwick Davis or Peter Sallis if you were to close your eyes and listen to him sometimes. But I don't have to make fun of his accent because it already is one of the running jokes in Yeo Joon Han's film.
All in all Sell Out! Is an amazing and entertaining film from start to finish. Rarely does a film come out that is equal parts amazing to watch, funny, satirical and harmonious. What we have here with Sell Out! is a sure-fire winner of a film.
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