Talentime

Reveals a writer-director granted insufficient time to reach her full potential.

With:
With: Pamela Chong Ven-teen, Mahesh Jugal Kishor, Mohammed Redzuan Adamshah, Jaclyn Victor.

Somewhere between understated and underdeveloped, “Talentime,” the swan song of Yasmin Ahmad, who died in July at age 51, reveals a writer-director granted insufficient time to reach her full potential. The story of two school talent-show contestants and their extended families, this slight pic offers a cross-section of contempo Malaysian life with hints of its religious, racial and social complexities. Already the subject of a 2006 Tokyo fest retro, Ahmad has received similar tributes — with “Talentime” headlining — across the fest circuit this year. But even within Southeast Asia, the pic underperformed in commercial venues.

Love blossoms (but drama plods) as comely singer Meleur (Pamela Chong Ven-teen) falls for mute student Mahesh (Mahesh Jugal Kishor), who’s assigned to drive her to rehearsals. Whether it be Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” or Pete Teo’s cute love songs, music provides a much-needed boost to Ahmad’s material, but unscored sections are marked by awkward silences, with clumsy comedy relief. Thesps utter jokes and straight lines with little sense of their meaning, as if the dialogue had been rehearsed to death. Snappier editing could get the pic up on its feet.

Talentime

Malaysia

Production: A Chilli Pepper Films production. (International sales: Primeworks Studios, Selangor, Malaysia.) Produced by Mohammad Effendy Harjoh. Executive producers, Ahmad Puad Onah, Faszil Manap. Directed, written by Yasmin Ahmad.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Low Soon-keong; editors, Raja Affandy, Raja Jamaluddin; music, Pete Teo; production designer, Wong Voon-leong. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Winds of Asia), Oct. 20, 2009. (Also in Pusan Film Festival -- Winds of Asia.) Malay, English, Tamil dialogue. Running time: 115 MIN.

With: With: Pamela Chong Ven-teen, Mahesh Jugal Kishor, Mohammed Redzuan Adamshah, Jaclyn Victor.

More Film

  • solo a star wars story

    Box Office: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Headed for Underwhelming Holiday Weekend Debut

    Somewhere between understated and underdeveloped, “Talentime,” the swan song of Yasmin Ahmad, who died in July at age 51, reveals a writer-director granted insufficient time to reach her full potential. The story of two school talent-show contestants and their extended families, this slight pic offers a cross-section of contempo Malaysian life with hints of its […]

  • solo a star wars story

    How the Kasdans Settled the Biggest Debate in 'Star Wars' History With 'Solo'

    Somewhere between understated and underdeveloped, “Talentime,” the swan song of Yasmin Ahmad, who died in July at age 51, reveals a writer-director granted insufficient time to reach her full potential. The story of two school talent-show contestants and their extended families, this slight pic offers a cross-section of contempo Malaysian life with hints of its […]

  • Morgan Freeman Sexual Harassment

    Morgan Freeman Issues New Statement: 'I Did Not Assault Women'

    Somewhere between understated and underdeveloped, “Talentime,” the swan song of Yasmin Ahmad, who died in July at age 51, reveals a writer-director granted insufficient time to reach her full potential. The story of two school talent-show contestants and their extended families, this slight pic offers a cross-section of contempo Malaysian life with hints of its […]

  • Euphoria Review

    Cannes Film Review: 'Euphoria'

    Somewhere between understated and underdeveloped, “Talentime,” the swan song of Yasmin Ahmad, who died in July at age 51, reveals a writer-director granted insufficient time to reach her full potential. The story of two school talent-show contestants and their extended families, this slight pic offers a cross-section of contempo Malaysian life with hints of its […]

  • David Permut

    David Permut, Naomi Kawase Join Shanghai Festival Jury

    Somewhere between understated and underdeveloped, “Talentime,” the swan song of Yasmin Ahmad, who died in July at age 51, reveals a writer-director granted insufficient time to reach her full potential. The story of two school talent-show contestants and their extended families, this slight pic offers a cross-section of contempo Malaysian life with hints of its […]

  • 'Adrift' Director Baltasar Kormakur on Casting

    'Adrift' Director Baltasar Kormakur on Casting Shailene Woodley, Shooting Surrounded by Sharks

    Somewhere between understated and underdeveloped, “Talentime,” the swan song of Yasmin Ahmad, who died in July at age 51, reveals a writer-director granted insufficient time to reach her full potential. The story of two school talent-show contestants and their extended families, this slight pic offers a cross-section of contempo Malaysian life with hints of its […]

  • Trevor Jackson and Jason Mitchell in

    Film News Roundup: Sony Opening Crime Thriller 'Superfly' Two Days Earlier

    Somewhere between understated and underdeveloped, “Talentime,” the swan song of Yasmin Ahmad, who died in July at age 51, reveals a writer-director granted insufficient time to reach her full potential. The story of two school talent-show contestants and their extended families, this slight pic offers a cross-section of contempo Malaysian life with hints of its […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content