Watching a new Cambodian film, Kiles

If you read LIFT issue 44, you’ll know what a reporter wrote for this week in what’s new section. No wonder, it’s a review of a Cambodian drama film, Kiles (literally translate as Passion), written by Mao Ayuth, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Information.

After reading the review, I was so eager to watch the film. Fortunately, I received a free ticket from one of my friends, so Saturday afternoon was my second time I went to lux cinema watching films.

I don’t remember my first time in this cinema, but for this time, one thing I’ve noticed is that most of the audiences are teenagers who mostly walk in with their partners and some were still wearing school uniforms as if they were entering classroom. Before the film started, I was on my seat trying to fathom out the reason why there are small number of adults in the theater. Unfortunately, the film had started before I could find the answer, so let me give you a floor to come up with the answer to my doubt.

Below is the original review of the film written by Tet Chan, a LIFT reporter. Cheers,

Kiles poster

Kiles poster

Perhaps you have heard stories about life in Cambodia during French colonization. Maybe you are even an expert on the period, but I’m certainly not.  Hoping to learn more about postWorld War II Cambodia, I went with my friends to see Kiles, the newest movie to hit Cambodia’s theatres, and the first production by the Cambodia Film Commission, a government- funded initiative meant to raise the standard of Cambodian film.

The sounds of chanting plays over the opening scene as an old rich man named Kiles is lying in bed, lonely and weak. It doesn’t look like he has long to live, but, as luck would have it, the frail fellow recovers and returns to live with his four wives and countless servants.

The news keeps getting better for the geezer when one of these servants reads his palm and tells him that his fifth wife will be a beautiful young woman. Kiles isn’t a man to wait around for fortune to find him, so he tells his future-seeing househelp to track down someone who owes him money and demand that they give him their daughter’s hand in marriage to clear their debt.

The unfortunate and indebted man who the servant finds conveniently has a beautiful daughter named Teuy. Her devoted boyfriend Plok is a cremator, and he has been taking the golden coins from the mouths of corpses to save for their wedding. When the servant comes knocking he has 99 of the 100 coins needed to get engaged.

Close doesn’t cut it for Teuy’s father, who predictably agrees to marry her off to erase his debts.

It’s not long before old man Kiles and young beauty Teuy are preparing to be married. I’m not a movie-spoiler, so I’m not gonna tell you what happens next. I’ll say that it’s not as predictable as the plot I described thus far.

In some ways the movie seemed to sugggest it would be a sad love story, but that’s not how it was recieved. My friends and I laughed with the rest of the audience during much of the movie, especially a series of scenes showing Plok trying to commit suicide, once by taking a bowl, filling it with water and immersing his head in an attempt to drown. His efforts are so obviously futile that moviegoers don’t have to worry about his pending death. Plok isn’t a complete coward though, in another scene he puts his life on the line to steal his woman from the decrepit dude who stole her away … I’ll let you find out what happens when you see the movie. Feel free to thank me later.

While some of the scenes were silly, others were quite beautiful; with music and gorgeous Cambodian scenery that made me feel a bit of nationalistic pride while being entertained. It was refreshing to see a Cambodian movie with decent acting and voices that are actually recorded during production.

I was quite happy with my decision to spend an hour and half immersed in scenes and stories from Cambodia’s past. You too will have a new perspective on our history, and although some parts of the plot and character development were a bit thin, I walked out of the theatre optimistic about the future of Cambodian film.

Kiles is a unique type of filem in Cambodia these days. It was enjoyable to watch.

“I was happy having spent 90 minutes immersed in scenes from Cambodia’s past.”

You can also read the article in LIFT, the Phnom Penh Post website by CLICKING HERE


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Dara Saoyuth

Coming from a simple family in Kampot province of Cambodia, I’ve spent most part of my teenage years in learning and working. Through those experiences, I’ve built myself up from the ground and finally, become an entrepreneur running a media production company with my co-founder.

I believe that no matter situation or position we are in, we can be great at what we are doing and get what we want when we put our heart and soul into that.

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