The chief of a lazy, quiet village, Kampong Bras Basah, is a conservative man named Tok Hassan (Wan Hanafi Su). Under his command, the magazines are censored, nudity is deemed objectionable, and women are told to obey their men - even if they are trapped in an abusive marriage. Tok is so cruel that he has a bird in a cage, and that bird sadly doesn't get a chance to fly in the air. Like that bird, the people of this village are also trapped in a cage. Their voices are suppressed by this village head.
Ustaz Fauzi (Iedil Dzuhrie Alaudin), a preacher, is Tok's puppet. He says what Tok orders him to say. At one point in La Luna, Fauzi is told to use his voice to bring down a local shopkeeper named Hanie Abdullah (Sharifah Amani). Her titular lingerie store vexes Tok as it dares to go against the patriarchal establishment. Hanie is one of the few characters who possesses the courage to stand up against the conservative villain. The other character is a teenage girl named Azura Salihin (Syumaila Salihin). She's the daughter of a police officer, Salihin Arshad (Shaheizy Sam), and near the beginning of the film, she mocks Tok when he lectures how a Muslim girl should behave in public.
Azura is cheerful and lively - a breath of fresh air. Her charming expressions alone fill the film with excitement. She fearlessly teases her dad about having boyfriends and being sexually active. It helps that she doesn't have a strict father - he is your typical (almost) cool dad who is generally found in movies like La Luna. As Salihin, Shaheizy Sam displays parental concern with a mix of childish behavior. He cries when his daughter goes on a date. Later, when Azura is harmed in a fire, Salihim brings down the perpetrator without considering his status.
In Hanafi Su's hands, Tok looks repulsive, punchable - a total abomination. Whenever he appears on the screen, he sucks in all the lively air. The mood becomes suffocating and intense. In a lesser film, this guy would have been hit with a speech about being modern. But La Luna, surprisingly and thankfully, never gives lectures to the audience. When Salihin asks Hanie what "mansplain" means, she doesn't give her either a definition or a "progressive" statement. Even in the end, the bad guy is defeated with speakers, not sermons. These speakers are comically used earlier when a husband and a wife, um, have fun. Here is the takeaway: Tok is undermined in both cases.
La Luna has modest ambitions, and it effectively fulfills them. No scene lingers on the screen for even one unnecessary second. It's fine; it's likable.
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