LOCAL movie fans were in for a treat this year with critically-acclaimed movies such as Ola Bola, Jagat, The Kid From The Big Apple and Boboiboy The Movie. Pekak is the latest gem to hit the big screen.
The film debut of director Khairul Azri Md Noor a.k.a. Kroll, this bittersweet love story between two lonely souls, is beautifully written by Azril Hamzah and Alfie Palermo.
It features two of the country’s most versatile stars, Juvana’s Zahiril Adzim and Sepet’s Sharifah Amani, in their first on-screen collaboration.
The film tips its hat to national literary laureate the late Datuk Usman Awang, particularly his enduring play of star-crossed lovers titled Uda & Dara.
However, Zahiril’s Uda and Amani’s Dara are far from star-crossed lovers, as Pekak is filled with rays of hope throughout its 90-minute duration.
Furthermore, the heavy issues of exploitation and repression are absent from the story. In their place are the themes of loneliness and alienation, judgemental parenting, hypocrisy masquerading as kindness, and lust masquerading as love.
Pekak is also a peek into the lives of the handicapped. Audiences learn that deaf people have deep feelings, regrets, dreams and aspirations just like normal people.
In fact, they are gifted in their own way, being able to read others’ lip movements and facial expressions, and often turn out to be better judges of human character.
This urban tale of forbidden love amidst a sea of alienated youth and drug-fuelled hedonism centres on deaf boy Uda. A drug dealer, he sells drugs to pay for surgery that will restore his hearing.
Uda meets rebellious secondary school girl Dara, who longs to escape her judgemental and overbearing father (Zaidi), and love quickly blossoms between them.
Dara has a close friend Melor (Sharifah Sakinah) who is deemed a “good girl” by Dara’s father. But Melor actually takes Dara to drug-fuelled dance parties hosted by her wealthy friend Kamil (Iedil Putra) after school hours.
Melor’s boyfriend Azman (Amerul) is a talented artist and junkie who soon begins to lust after Dara.
Uda may be deaf but he refuses to be seen as handicapped. He is frequently seen wearing T-shirts featuring famous music bands, and plays rock songs on his radio every night.
Zahiril is spot on with his portrayal of Uda. While he does not have much dialogue, he fully utilises his facial expressions and body language to express his varied emotions.
He is best during his intimate scenes with Amani’s Dara. Both are subtle in their expressions of love, yet capture viewers’ imaginations with their body language.
A poignant scene occurs when Dara’s dress is torn, and Uda lovingly uses her school badge to stitch up the torn part around her shoulder.
Amani is convincing as Dara, too. The versatile actress honed her acting skills under the guidance of the late Yasmin Ahmad. While Dara’s long, jet-black hair resembles Orked’s in the Yasmin movie Sepet, Dara is her own woman — lonely, angst-ridden and longing to be loved.
Of the supporting cast, Sakinah is perfectly cast as Melor who is “angel by day, devil by night”. Her interactions with Azman and Kamil border on saucy talk, and her cigarette-puffing is realistic. This is a far cry from the actress’ current daytime role as a fitness instructor and ambassador.
Amerul steals the show as nasty Azman. He is annoying from the moment he opens his mouth, and all he can talk about is drugs and sex. Azman, who has created a sculpture that looks like a lethal weapon, gets increasingly loathsome as the film progresses.
Of the cameo actors, Chew is quirky as Uda’s ear specialist while Joe is refreshingly witty as Uda’s fellow drug dealer.
Pekak is a teen angst movie that will touch hearts and minds. Its ensemble cast has superb teamwork, and the director should be commended for his casting choices.
While it is a simple love story, it is a mesmerising cinematic journey that resonates with the real world, thanks to the great acting, particularly Zahiril and Amani.
DIRECTOR: Khairul Azri Md Noor
STARRING: Zahiril Adzim, Sharifah Amani, Sharifah Sakinah, Amerul Affendi, Iedil Putra, Zaidi Omar, Chew Kin Wah, Joe Flizzow
DURATION: 90 minutes