WHEN this film was introduced to the media several months ago, producer Fred Chong insisted that Rise is not a political film, but a patriotic one. The film’s three directors concurred. I beg to differ. I feel this film is meant to laud a certain leader’s achievements – and to me, there is nothing wrong with that. Filmmakers have the right to put a political stamp on their films, and show off their admiration for certain leaders. In fact, award-winning British director Richard Attenborough did that with his Oscar-winning film, Gandhi, where he put the man who fought for India’s independence on a pedestal. The difference is that Attenborough told his story well. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for this film. Rise: Ini Kalilah takes place during the recent 14th general election and focuses on six characters – a student living in London, a businessman, a reporter, a policeman, as well as a hawker in Singapore and a polling agent in Malaysia who are in an inter-racial relationship. It shows how these Malaysians from diverse backgrounds (with each director handling two characters’ stories) play their part during this crucial election. However, the characters are shallow and not properly developed, resulting in audiences feeling no emotional connection with any of them. Perhaps, there are just too many characters in this undertaking. The pacing is also slow. I kept looking at my watch and wondering how long more I had to wait until the end. Still, there are some saving graces in Rise. First, the film is beautifully shot. Second, some of the actors – such as Jack Tan and Remy Ishak – rose above the weak script to give convincing performances; and thirdly, the film has dialogue in Chinese, Tamil, English, and Malay. Unfortunately, all these elements are not enough to save it. I also wonder what the opening scene, which shows two policemen stopping a truck hiding some immigrants, has to do with the rest of the film. Are they telling us a story about illegal immigrants, or are they telling us a story about the election? That weak opening tells me that the film is nothing like its interesting trailer, which had made me eager to catch the film. Well, it goes to show that not all great trailers produce great films.