Movie Review: Luqman

AWARD-WINNING poet Luqman Hakim (Wan Hanafi) is upset that the younger generation no longer seems to appreciate the Malay ­language or literature.

His personal life is also in ­shambles. He feels jealous when his much-younger wife, ­traditional Malay dancer Ayu Kencana (Raja Ilya), gets close to young graduate Marwan Al Hadi (Josiah), who is doing his thesis on Malay culture.

Luqman lives in fear of losing Ayu to Marwan. He wants her to stop dancing, but she refuses. She is passionate about Malay ­traditional dance, and is not ready to end her career.

This conflict puts a tremendous strain on their once happy ­marriage.

Things get complicated when Marwan slowly finds himself falling in love with Ayu, and tries to pursue her at all costs.

Mahadi impressed me with his previous film, Sayang Salmah (1998), which went on to take six Malaysian Film Festival awards, including for best director and best film.

More than two decades later, he returns with an eagerly-awaited Luqman.

Although Luqman is not a disappointment, it just cannot match the intensity of Sayang Salmah.

The film's biggest strength is that everyone has given fantastic, convincing performances.

You can feel the tormented emotions that every character goes through.

Mahadi is always good in ­bringing out the best emotions from his cast. He is good at ­depicting complex emotional ­relationships, and his skills ­certainly shine here.

I love the scene where Luqman is trying to write a poem while his wife is dancing in the next room.

Angered by the distracting music, he barges into the room and throws a hissy fit. I can feel his frustration and rage: it seems so real.

But the film is far from perfect. For starters, the pacing could have been a little faster. At times, I feel boredom creeping in.

Some scenes also look sloppy. Perhaps, with his limited budget (RM500,000), Mahadi's hands were tied.

Like an ocean, Luqman has its highs and lows; just enjoy the flow of the waves of emotions in this film.