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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Violence kills romantic blockbuster

Violence kills romantic blockbuster

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Famed film director Poan Phoung Bopha has delivered what looks set to be another hit. Photograph: Chhim Sreyneang/Phnom Penh Post

After the previous success of 25 Year Old Girl comes another genre sequel with Fools In Love, screened at both Cineplex and Legend cinemas.

It’s curious how such a title which seems to give away the entire story can still drag in crowds, but I found myself on a cinema seat surrounded by teenaged Cambodian movie lovers and the film was a surprise package.

Audiences might have expected to see a lot more nonsense in the rom-com (romantic comedy) Fool’s in Love compared to the previous one. But the movie is more than just gags and is a mixture of romance, comedy, thriller and an investigation.

Putting aside the romance, the thrilling investigative plots are reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, with doubts remaining about the outcome until the end of the story. One drawback is that the movie fails to send a positive message - or any message - for the audience.

It opens up with a gun-shooting scene with an uncle who wants to get rid of his niece Bosba (played by Mean Sonita), the only heir of a fortune of billions of dollars and a real estate portfolio from her family.

Bosba, a spoiled little rich girl, has bodyguards but has no idea who the real bad guy is – her uncle. The second attempt at killing her fails and she is then hidden at the village home of one bodyguard.

Once she arrives at the new place, Bosba is told by the bodyguard to pretend to be mentally ill to hide her real identity. And then she falls for a zany guy from the village who doesn’t mind her oddity, as pretended as it is.

The story develops with hilarious scenes of this couple’s child-like acts and other odd behaviour. But Bosba is in grave danger as every trusted person she knows is prepared to betray her for the inheritance.

Two criticisms of Cambodian films is the tradition of dubbing high-pitch and fake-sounding voices and awkward performances by actors and actresses. However, Fool’s in Love shows obvious improvement despite the long-time criticism.

Not super-duper natural, but at least it doesn’t sound like a car-tyre skidding in your ears when the actress yells out in envy. The transition from one scene to another is faster than usual for Cambodian movies, and this tighter editing is an evolution in local film making. The movie flows faster and the tension remains unresolved until the end.

But a let down about Fool’s in Love is the message conveyed at the end of the story. The audiences are confronted with violent gun-fire scenes from the start until the end. As an adult, I could not find any moral positivity out of this movie – so who knows what the teenagers sitting next to me thought.

The movie is the twenty-first film from director Poan Phoung Bopha, who is one of the only female directors in this country who enjoys consistent success for the films she has made.

Her previous achievements include the 25 Year Old Girl, Mother’s Love, Who Am I, and Love For Auction which was banned last year by the Ministry of Information after it aired on CTN.

Her latest effort is a real improvement on traditional Cambodian films – and although it contains almost no decent messages, it is a crack-you-up and entertaining movie.

Fools In Love is playing at Legend and Cineplex, with English subtitles.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chanvetey Vann at ppp.lifestyle@gmail.com

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