After watching Shuttle Life, I told myself that I would definitely HAVE TO write about review about it and share this great movie with others! However, this story can be a little uncomfortable to watch because it depicts the life of the underclass in a very realistic way that, some, like myself finds it hard not to admit that we’re doing much better and could even be considered fortunate.
The story follow the life of Qiang, a poor Malaysian young adult living in a small unit in Kuala Lumpur. Qiang lives with his mentally ill mother and 6 year old sister, both whom he was very close to. He is the main support and bread winner in the family. He works in a mechanic shop and steal cars with his 2 buddies at night, sometimes even bring his sister with him.
They do not have water supplied to their houses, their tap have no water and their source of water comes from a “Water Truck” whereby they have to queue to get water.
On his sister’s 6th birthday, Qiang and his sister met with an accident and she passed away.
Qiang didn’t have time to break down and cry or try to digest his sorrow about his sister’s death. He was immediately caught between his responsibility toward his mentally unstable mother and his sister – to get her home from the hospital.
However, the hospital doesn’t allow him to unless he is able to produce her birth certificate. Qiang was helpless as he couldn’t find his sister’s birth certificate and his mental ill mother wasn’t helping. He even tried to fake a birth certificate but it proved too expensive (RM1800) for him. Money seems to be able to solve the problem for him, but it is exactly the thing that he doesn’t have. The film has a very realistic style right from the start to end and it was like you were there watching everything happen right before your eyes. There are no fluffy effects or camera views, just a very plain right in your face kind. It feels kind of “cold”, and it is this “cold” feeling that makes you feel even more for the characters.
The depiction of the helplessness of the poor and Qiang does not appears very deliberate but seems to be through everyday happening – like when Qiang rode his bike into a “village” that was being tear down, and someone said, “They (politicians) will only come here when there is election, other than that, they’ll disappear.” and there was one particular scene whereby Qiang was being lectured by a police officer for vandalising a car (which he thinks had knocked him and his sister down) and he told him, “this car hit and killed my sister, can you arrest him?” and there was no respond from the officer.
Other than the style of directing, the script was well written and the cast did a very good job in leading the movie forward. Veteran, Sylvia Chang, who plays the mentally ill mother was both annoying and pitiful, yet you just can’t hate her. She gets violent and at times suspicious of everyone when she has a relapse (or when she don’t take her pills) but other times, she is a doting mother who wants to contribute to the family. Sylvia did a great job here and I think she led Jack Tan (who plays Qiang) well in the scenes they played together. Jack Tan, of course does his part really well.
Shuttle Life is a movie that I’ll urge everyone to try this movie out. Even though the raw images and realism can become uncomfortable for some… but maybe it is this kind of “uncomfortableness” that would help us to grow and mature up.
My Rating: 8.5/10