Disclaimer: This review is from my perspective as a viewer with little or no knowledge of films and how they are made. What is written is entirely how I feel about the movie from my personal view as a movie fan and not a film critique. Also, note my limited English vocabulary in describing things and the absence of film-making terms and jargons. My take on the movie and its understanding are also probably based on the life that I went through as a person, as I think films touch these elements most of the time in terms of story. I hereby apologize for any error in touching those matters. Also, I have a very short-term memory so the review might miss talking about some parts
NOOB FILM REVIEW - NIROJIM (2008) (Dan Ramly & Abro Rivai)
This short film is an adaptation from Guy de Maupassant 1886 novel, Le Diable (The Devil). A story about Mak Ayu (Seniwati Mariani), an old bed-ridden and dying woman is at the center of play where his son JAHEL (Nam Ron) seeking to pass the responsibility of the care to others, in this case LARA (Khatijah Tan) while he harvest the rich left behind. What unfolds appears more sinister than how the peaceful exterior of the kampung appears to be.
The a doctor in a suit, driving a red classic car cutting through the paddy field looks like an act of intrusion. Subtly forcing through solutions to the problems, only serve their greed.
In this case the doctor feed on JAHEL's greed to harvest and suggested JAHEL to seek the help of LARA in order to take care of his mother.
Bargaining between LARA and JAHEL on how much will it cost for the care of MAK AYU is very interesting.
For the rich - 7 per day and 21 per night
For the poor - 3 per day and 9 per night
JAHEL said he cant afford any of the rate plus he doesnt know how long his mother will last.
(Instead of what a loving son would say, I dont care how much it will cost, just make sure you look after my mother).
JAHEL instead bargained for a flat rate. To forward this to the business minded and calculative LARA is akin to a death wish for his mother.
Upon checking on MAK AYU, LARA came with the final rate of 43 and its non-negotiable. (akin to saying that she will only look after MAK AYU until certain period, a direct wish that MAK AYU will die before she spent more caring time for free due to the fixed rate)
It has go down as a game of who can get more value out of their money.
After one day of care (which cost 21) JAHEL told LARA that his mother is looking to last longer. So, LARA, not wanting to lose anything, have planned something. Something that she has been doing all along, and the doctor (who suggested LARA to JAHEL has a share in all this)
Having only one more day to care for MAK AYU, LARA have to end the life of MAK AYU regardless and get 43 instead of 42 if JAHEL follows the rate.
A profit of 1 at the price of MAK AYU's life. LARA is happy and theres no sense of mourning in JAHEL's eyes, willingly hand LARA her payments, at the same time giving the look at LARA for making extra 1. JAHEL can now harvest with no worry.
The cancer has been going on in a seemingly peaceful suburban village. The spread of greed, glutony and wrath. LARA is also a religious figure that help to spread the fire and feed fear into MAK AYU to her death.
NIROJIM title in Goth-Roman fonts I think shows its relevancy to the biblical seven sins (I am not getting all seven here tho) and how it remains relevant even after being adapted from a novel written in 1886 into a 19th century Malay background.
MAK AYU's years of hard work on the land makes JAHEL think only about the land (a bi-product of capitalism, the lust and greed of profit regardless how small even at a cost of a life?, easy times make weak men?) And how it feeds on the inner lust of men to serve the propaganda.
Indie Short Films scene in Malaysia have great stories and talents. I am privilaged to be there in one of the alternative cinema house Dream Projects - Khizanat Hall in their epic 30 indie short films marathon Ipoh Indie Film Festival 2018. Kudos!