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#CrunchTest Movie Review: A Local Mystery-Noir Film, Shadowplay

Coined by the director of Shadowplay, Tony Pietra Arjuna shares that the local sci-fi film is a missing link between the retro-80’s elements of Stranger Things with a Dark-inspired theme.


The story follows a private investigator, Anton Shaw (Tony Eusoff) who is assigned to a case of a missing university student named Lamya Sheridan (Juria Hartmans). During his investigation, he finds an 80's mystery gamebook, finding resonance as he remembers having a similar book when he was a child.



He then unravels the truth about a traumatic encounter of his childhood while using the gamebook throughout the investigation. This is where the mystery and thriller begins when he ventures deeper into his search, creating a form of desperation. The search of Lamya and his discovery of his childhood trauma begins to toil with his mind - forming a fantasy or alternate realm and not being able to differentiate reality from it.


Watch the trailer of Shadowplay:


Shadowplay is available on Vimeo.

We had 3 of our Movie Buffs to share with us their thoughts about the film:



2.5/5



What Kausern thinks:


1. Overall, what did you think about the storyline of the movie?

In the beginning, SHADOWPLAY appears to be your typical 1940’s detective-type film noir with a post-modern approach. But as the movie progresses, many other genres are introduced into the mix; supernatural, drama, mystery, B-grade violence and even the 80’s inspired “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. As a result, the outcome is somewhat bizarre and erratic.


Even though this movie is positioned as an indie-film, the storyline was still too quirky for me.

2. As a local Malaysian made film, how would you think this movie lived up to your expectation?

I used to be cynical about our local production but I have been pleasantly surprised lately with our locally made films. So, I went into this film with an optimistic expectation but alas, it fell really short.


In terms of the performances, the whole time it felt like I was watching a stage play. The actors were delivering every line with heart and their facial expressions and gestures were exaggerated. As a result, the actors looked awkward and silly on screen. If you’ve experienced a stage performance before, you’ll know what I mean. Hmmm, perhaps Shadowplay would have been more believable and enjoyable as a theatre play.


3. What was your most favourite part of the film? (eg: performance of actors, character development etc)

The visual style of the film.


KL city never looked so beautiful at night. The use of neon purple and glowing reds and greens are just so beautiful to look at. And I like some of the choices of the camera angles. Shout out to Praveen Kumar, the film’s director of photography!


Also, the actors are beautiful to look at. Even though their performances are over-the-top, they do have screen presence especially the lead actor, Tony Eusoff.


4. In the spirit of supporting local movies, how do you think the movie can improve further?

My respect to writer and director Tony Pietra Arjuna for conceptualizing this movie. To be fair, the storyline sounds intriguing and ambitious on paper but unfortunately, it fell short in execution.


Like all local Malaysian movies, our producers should invest in professional scriptwriters. Usually, when an interesting storyline fails to be translated onto the big screen, it’s probably the result of a poor screenplay.


5. From a scale of 1-5, how much would you rate this movie?

2/5


What Jessica thinks:


1. Overall, what did you think about the storyline of the movie?

I think that as a mystery-noir genre, Shadowplay’s storyline definitely creates an

exceptionally surreal and mysterious atmosphere throughout the movie. Throughout the

storyline, it’s always mixed with flashbacks and events happening in Anton’s head,

intertwined with the case of the missing college student – Lamya Sheridan.


2. As a local Malaysian made film, how would you think this movie lived up to your

expectation?

First of all, I was surprised that the film was mainly in English; considering most of the mystery-noir movies directed by locals are mostly in Malay language. It's a fresh of breath air seeing the use of English, and still not forgetting to include some of the Malay language to make cultural references and inject some local flavours in the movie.


3. What was your most favourite part of the film? (eg: performance of actors,

character development etc)

My favourite part of the film was definitely the performance of the main actor, Tony

Eusoff. He makes Anton into a completely relatable and sympathetic character. As the

film progresses and more hidden truths are unfolded, his expressions of emotions are

really rich and multifaceted. The actor’s performance lured me into the storyline and

made me want to understand what is going on in his mind. Is he just delusional? Is it all

just fragments of memories? What are the darkest secrets behind the mask everybody’s

wearing?


I also love how beautiful is the landscape of Kuala Lumpur captured at night, with a very

neon colour palette that makes our capital city looks more futuristic and surreal as ever.


4. In the spirit of supporting local movies, how do you think the movie can

improve further?

I usually don’t watch too many local movies, but I definitely don’t regret giving this movie

a shot. I was really in awe of how much we have progressed in terms of the production

quality in the industry. As much as I enjoyed this mystery-noir genre, I think that

some of the scenes were too vivid and the visual is too intense for my liking and the illusions were too creepy. There is still room of improvement for the delivery part; if the visuals and transition of scenes could be more coherent, this movie would've been a better poignant mystery-noir film.


5. From a scale of 1 -5, how much would you rate this movie?

2.5 out of 5.


What Natasha thinks:


1. Overall, what did you think about the storyline of the movie?

Personally, the beginning of the movie was a letdown and I found it difficult to stay focused and it took me quite a lot of patience to stay. Truth be told, it was confusing as I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. Only towards the end that I could put the pieces together and figure out what the movie was actually about.


2. As a local Malaysian made film, how would you think this movie lived up to your expectations?

I didn't have much expectations but I was surprised by the visuals for some scenes, especially with the mixture of neon lights, 80s-inspired setting and Kuala Lumpur itself. It was nicely done.


3. What was your most favourite part of the film? (eg: performance of actors, character development etc)

I admire the plot as that was the main part that actually made me continue to stay put to watch out for what’s to come. Though I was impatient at first, it keeps me wondering which part is real and which is just imagination. It’s a good movie to keep not only myself entertained but also to think.


4. In the spirit of supporting local movies, how do you think the movie can improve further?

Certain visuals could somehow be improved like the scene when the art professor was stabbing Anton. Also, I don’t know why but the music throughout some parts of the movie was somehow distracting. I believe that the selection of proper background music plays a significant role in contributing to the mood of the audience.


5. From a scale of 1 -5, how much would you rate this movie?

3 out of 5.



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