LFF 2021: Money Has Four Legs – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 38 minutes, Director – Maung Sun

While trying to make his debut feature, hopeful director Wai Bhone (Okkar Dat-Khe) runs into financial troubles in both his personal and moviemaking lives.

Opening his feature debut, co-writer (alongside Ma Aeint) and director Maung Sun takes a slightly satirical look at censorship within the Burmese film industry. His central figure, Wai Bhone (Okkar Dat-Khe) is attempting to also make his own feature debut, however the gritty gangster flick that he aspires to create is being shot down in lengthy conversations with his producer for containing too much violence, sex and swearing. This all before anything has even been properly filmed. The film simply viewed in comparison to the original upon which it is based. We see the initial struggles of the first-time director, not just with his producer but with a minimal, not always present, crew. Sun manages to avoid a comedic tone that comes into effect later in the piece and forms an interesting depiction of such creative struggles that helps bring you into the film and the attempts and efforts of the central figure.

A central figure who the film acknowledges early on is undeniably flawed, making him an interesting early drawing point. As a need for money, not just within his filmmaking career but his personal life, where his family’s situation in their flat is put at risk if they don’t pay up on time, comes into play the more slightly comedic elements come into play, alongside the gradually appearing notes of a heist. The film certainly feels as if it’s telling two different lines just shown through the eyes of the same figure. One in his working life, the other in his family life. It’s during scenes focusing on the latter that the film almost feels as if it comes to something of a standstill, particularly within the first half of the narrative when they’re still being warmed to. After having built up the film production elements such moments seem like something of a slight detour and distraction. And while adding to Wai Bhone as a character they don’t always keep you in the flow of the film.

In general as we reach the second half of the fairly short run-time the details and general line that’s travelled don’t quite click or work as well as they did before. There’s an almost jumbled sense to the film and the different things that it’s trying to show to enhance the actions and desperation of the central character in his search for money. There are certainly some good elements, mostly in relation to the heist itself; particularly a rather amusing getaway, but they don’t entirely distract from the overall wavering nature of the rest of the scenes that surround them.

Over time the initial elements that brought you in in the first place, especially those focusing on the main character’s original frustrations and the film-related side of things, begin to shed. The second half progresses dealing with a few more elements, again with the same varying degree of interest and engagement from the viewer. And while the film as a whole just about manages to stay standing it’s not always on the most sturdy of grounds after having changed its stance, or at least narrative focus, a couple of times throughout its 98 minute course. There are moments of interest to be found along the way, mostly in relation to the initial filmmaker struggles that we see being faced, particularly creative and censorial disputes. But, there’s aren’t always kept in focus beyond the first half resulting in a slightly wavering narrative that while throwing the main character around and creating some mild amusement every now and then never properly feels as if it stabilises.

Despite a promising opening and set up once Money Has Four Legs begins to delve into the more non-film-related areas of its central characters life and the events that spur from there it begins to feel jumbled in tone, themes and an overall central focus.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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