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Interchange – A MediaConnex Film Review

An existential junction between two worlds.

Interchange is a Malaysian film by Dain Iskandar Said, that follows the investigative journey of a crime photographer who is traumatized by an old case, struggling to find solace. Still reeling from a horrific murder he had witnessed, forensics photographer Adam (Iedil Putra), is thrust into the fray once again when an eerily similar crime occurs and he has to assist Detective Man (Shaheizy Sam) deep down Malaysia’s underbelly of shamans and ancient rituals to solve the deeply confounding case.

The first moments promise a detective chase under exotic rainfall dripping with Southeast Asian noir, offering a mysterious crime scene and very little information to go on, providing great elements to tease the audience.

The story slows down in the middle, and struggles to pick up the pace. Not to say that this is an action film, and it never claimed to be so, but the direction of where it is going left little energy for the audience to look forward to the next scene.

The magic realism that wove through the film was challenging to balance. It promises a unique experience, but leaves the viewer disoriented as the movie switches between being an urban fantasy mystery thriller and a philosophical supernatural indie film.

Although the team intended to include tribal lore and its inherent cultural value, it satisfying an Orang Asal audience, remains to be seen. Stories will understandably adjust reality to fit narrative, so there’s ample reason to believe Interchange took great care in showing respect to the lore sources.

The film speaks of loneliness, an outsider between two worlds, the trauma of identity lost or trapped, and the seductive disconnection from reality, elements still very much relevant to this day. But Interchange would have been a smoother experience had the film left out the chunkier parts of the philosophizing from the dialogue, and let the scenes, acting and conversations underscore those key points.

Why you would want to watch it:

Not many Malaysian films consciously use native lore as their core. Interchange attempts to infuse the standard detective noir with an existential premise, merging past and present in the contrast of values that is part social commentary, part documentary. The film looks better made than most in Malaysia, and tries to capture rainforest beauty. If you can handle the plodding pace, and the identity crisis of trying too many things within two hours but ending up giving a confusing experience, then go for it.

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Shern Chong served for 5 years in the Malaysian games industry as a writer and designer, and is now a videogame design lecturer for KDU university. He currently juggles guiding his students to become the next gen developers, hunting for screenwriting gigs, and prepping his fantasy novel TETRAGRAM SECRETS for publishing in 2018. His pursuits include training under the Yip Kin Wing Chun martial arts house, Pen & Paper RPGs, aquascaping and urban farming. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn and roving around the KDU Glenmarie Games campus. Chat him up and ask him about his novel.

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