At the End of Daybreak is a crazy ass film. It is a tale about how poor decisions can lead to tragedy. The film follows a 23 years old guy, and his girlfriend, Ying, who also is mostly well behaved and respectful, but has yet to reach 16. Unlike most Malaysian independent films, this one has a clear story, though it takes its time to reveal itself.
The girl’s schoolmates are experimenting sexually, and when she encourages her boyfriend, nature takes its course. The choices of shots and framing makes sense for once, and we don’t see a lot of pointless long takes aimed away from the main action, or extraneous, ambiguous insert shots that try to mean something we don’t care about.
At the End of Daybreak proves once again why fans of arthouse film have been looking to Malaysia for the past several years. Director Ho Yuhang is one of the Malaysian indie film movement’s brightest lights, blessed with a keen eye and an uncanny sense for human nature. The acting even from the Malaysian actors is, thankfully, not over the top. I cannot imagine should something like this be filmed in Singapore, how much restrictive and less genuine the film would feel in its dialogues. The script however seems to like giving them lots of lame jokes to tell.
Tuck Chai’s mother, beautifully played by Shaw Brothers veteran Kara Hui, is arguably the purest soul of the lot despite being a serious alcoholic. At The End Of Daybreak captures these people in all of their fragility and self-absorption. As director Ho drags events to their inevitably horrific conclusion, he also offers food for thought regarding the complex nature of this type of crime as well as asking us to ponder whether a legal system that offers distinct advantages to those who can pay is really such a good thing for fair society? Thinking movie aside, this movie really jumps at you, especially when things start to pick up pace heading toward an explosive, shocking finale. Great movie all around despite some rough edges, go see it.