Directed by Boo Junfeng
Aiman is a 28-year-old Malay correctional officer who is recently transferred to the territory’s top prison. Aiman lives with his older sister Suhaila in a modest housing estate. At his new workplace, Aiman begins to take an interest in a 65-year-old sergeant named Rahim. Soon, it is revealed that the charismatic Rahim is actually the long-serving chief executioner of the prison. Rahim also takes notice of the principled and diligent Aiman. When Rahim’s assistant suddenly quits, he asks Aiman to become his apprentice. Aiman tells Suhaila of his new job position, but Suhaila becomes upset, as their father was actually executed by Rahim. Aiman knew this all along. Can Aiman overcome his conscience and a haunted past to possibly take over as the next chief executioner?
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★★★★ review by Kirat on Letterboxd
Fantastic film. Now THIS is how you do arthouse cinema. THIS is a production with a good script, proper execution, solid plot and enough, but not too much, narrative tension to move the story forward. Stellar performances from all three leads - Firdaus Rahman, Wan Hanafi Su and Mastura Ahmad all seemed to fall into their roles with ease. Even the dynamics between them felt natural. It would've been very easy for this film to turn into an activisty preachy polemic, but that it didn't is a credit to the writers and producers. A little suspension of disbelief is required - the odds of someone escaping security checks within the highly-regulated Singapore civil service and getting as far within the system as Aiman does before being noticed is highly improbably. Still, the possibilities within that explored in the film are worth considering. I liked the storyline's exploration of the absent father-struggling son dynamic, the arcs of the angry young man and stoic caring woman, the ways in which characters grappled with the ethical dilemmas they found their lives in. And beautifully soundtracked by The Observatory (my only complaint is there should have been more sound!).
★★★★½ review by Linus Quek on Letterboxd
"Learn the ropes, yeah?"
Great insight about the story of the man who eventually got taught to pull the lever. The death penalty is usually not a very open topic around Singaporeans but I'm glad this film had given us some answers to the mystery surrounding death row inmates, the one who offs them, and the procedure that happens then after.
★★★★ review by ipacoxt on Letterboxd
spiralling intense jpurney, still good one though
★★★★ review by Caproni on Letterboxd
To undergo a trip that's as unbelievably tense as this and one that is photographed in such dark a manner as the downward spiral of the journey the main character's in, is a rare cinematic treat nowadays and it's even rarer to know that it's expertly-crafted by a filmmaker who practically hails from a country located mere 6 hours away from ours. Writer-director Boo Junfeng has made a film that speaks volume despite its solemn framing and abrupt cut-aways; one that comments on the judiciary stature of his own country and a strong, engaging portrait of a morally-conflicted man. And that final scene is going to be in my waking mind for days to come. Such a fine movie.
The moment we got out of this was the moment we all ask ourselves: as film practitioners here in Malaysia, where do we even go from here?
★★★★½ review by Irvin Malcolm on Letterboxd
A young man in Singapore gets a job as a prison guard at maximum security then becomes the apprentice/assistant of the chief hangman/executioner of the prison and he learns the ropes, so to speak. This is Singapore's entry for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race. This death penalty drama is quite compelling and is quiet in its emotions. Though it is clearly on the anti-death penalty side of things, it is beautifully nuanced and willing to inspire meaningful dialogue. i must say, Singapore is doing some interesting cinematic work lately.
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