New independent Malaysian cinema continues on its slow, steady and distancing course with “Rain Dogs,” helmer Ho Yuhang’s follow-up to “Sanctuary,” featuring similarly spare lensing and lethargic pacing. Tale of a country boy’s loss of innocence in the city and his exploration of family bonds keeps the characters at multiple arms’ length, bridging the sympathy gap only through long-term exposure to the stiff-lipped protag. Part of Focus Film’s new DV “First Cuts” division, pic will find limited reception at fests championing similar fare.
A bewildered Tung (Kuan Choon Wai) struggles to negotiate the urban rules of Kuala Lumpur, where his brother Hong (Cheung Wing Hong) is hanging out with the wrong crowd. Following Hong’s violent death, Tung and his mother (Lee Yoke Lan) head back to the countryside, to the strains of Odetta’s “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” an apt tune for the sense of displacement and loss that suffuses Ho’s oeuvre. Shot in many locations, penumbral lighting doesn’t always suit the HD format. Editor Liao Ching-Sung is a collaborator of Hou Hsiao-hsien, who favors long, spare camera movements. Parallel here is especially apparent in the final shot.