Director – Maung Sun – 2020 – Burma – 98m
The progress of a first time film director from whose production money seems to flee like a four-legged animal – in cinemas as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2021 from Wednesday, October 6th
An hilarious opening confronts film director Wai Bhone (Okkar (Dat Khe)) with the man from the Burmese censorship office, a bureaucrat with little sense of storytelling beyond the prohibitive. Lots of people are smoking. Could he tone down that word to furthermucker? Cut down the drinking scenes. We cannot let criminals escape. What is the point of this film? Then there are street scenes bursting into colour. All of this makes it into the attractive trailer.
On the set of his film, Wai is confronted by an actress who hasn’t learned her lines properly, so she’s reading them off her hand. Then there’s a location where a guard hasn’t turned up with the key to admit him and his crew. So he climbs over the wall with the camera only to get shut down by another guard. And his overly careless brother-in-law Zaw Wyint (Ko Thu) talks him into letting him appear in the film only to damage the camera when Zaw gets overenthusiastic about shooting a stunt.
This gets him into trouble with his money-grubbing producer. Who is far more interested in sleeping with the leading actress.
Bhone’s wife Seazir (Khin Khin Hsu), meanwhile, is struggling to pay the rent on his pitiful earnings and loses her job at the local bank when there’s a run on its money. Seeing an opportunity to dig themselves out of a financial hole, Wai and Zaw rob the bank, but Zaw hits a bank employee a little too hard on the head and there’s a lot of blood. Later, an accident leaves him with memory loss and he can’t remember where he his the bag of money.
All the elements are here for a really strong comedy caper, while the narrative and characters are believable enough. The story suggests a culture where everyone is struggling to get ahead while those at the top of the pile are raking in the money at the expense of everyone else, though it’s hard to tell whether that’s anything more than an homage to crime movies.
However, neither script nor shooting are as inventive as they might be and the film never rises above the average. One incidental moment in it is truly captivating though – when Seazir on her balcony buys a bag of Hot Boiled Pea from a street seller and winches it up on a little hook.
Money Has Four Legs is out in cinemas in the UK as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2021 from Wednesday, October 6th.