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  Publicity Stills of "Goodbye Boys"
Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films

English (with Malay & Chinese dialects)
Director: Bernard Chauly
Starring: Jay Eng, Nas-T, Razif Hashim, Farid Ramlee, David Eng, Peter Khor, Daniel Henry
RunTime: 1 hr 28 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.redfilms.com.my/goodbyeboys.htm

Opening Day: Pls refer to http://www.thepicturehouse.com.sg/


What happens when a gang of Form Five boys embark on a 100km hike to fulfill a King Scouts requirement but come back on the road to becoming men?

Goodbye Boys is a simple journey with complicated realizations. Set in 1990, Malaysia, it is about a gang of pimply guys with raging hormones, undecided ambitions and formative identities. They set out on a grueling 5-day journey through the Kinta Valley – once the richest tin deposit in the world, now an abandoned plain - that changes friendships and selves.

It’s a group expedition with individual goals. The harsh realization is that although the boys are a troop/patrol, they’re not necessarily a ‘brotherhood’. Friends are important but eventually, it’s not always about togetherness. Some will return mini-heroes, content with being welcomed by their dream dates at the 5th Form Farewell Prom dates. Others will realize that the expedition is the beginning of other things in life… the need to escape a small town to realize… one’s dreams…

When you grow up in any small town, you know that you have to breakaway in order to discover your fullest potential. This is a story that will capture the psyche of a group of young boys on the brink of leaving their comfort zones, in transition… It is a confusing yet exciting time where you wish the possibilities were endless but in reality, you know your escape routes are limited. It’s a time when your identity, ambition, sexuality is evolving. It is about looking back at a crucial formative period, much of which is reflected within a microjourney of an expedition. Youth is a time when everything seems exaggerated. A slow dance with your girl means everything. People’s actions and deeds affect you in a big way. Negative emotions in particular seem amplified.

What you were then, what you have become. What you continue to be… Yet we constantly look back. The personal journey of a few that can be understood universally. It is a timeless journey that affirms growing up as being a beautiful tragicomedy..

Movie Review:

Goodbye Boys looks deceptively simple. Glancing at the surface, it's a coming of age road trip on foot movie, about a group of 8 King Scouts wannabe embarking on a 100km route march in 5 days around Perak's Kinta Valley to fulfill the qualification requirement. However, even the Scout's motto "Be Prepared" could not be any better warning for the challenges they face, the decisions they have to make, and the life changing experiences each of them will undergo.

Director Bernard Chauly, whose first film Gol & Gincu featured a dominant female cast, now puts the spotlight on the males with his semi-biographical remembrance of his school days, going on a similar expedition. Set in 1990, it chronicles and documents some of the little seen sights and sounds of the road less travelled, as we follow the scouts through varied landscapes which even included disused, abandoned tin mining areas. Despite being shot in digital format, the movie brought out the flavour of the main star of the show, and that is the on location sites used throughout in places like Batu Gajah, Kampar and Tanjung Tualang.

The male dominated ensemble cast were surprisingly credible and able to flesh out their characters quite naturally, and what made it more amazing, is that all of them are rookies. This is in spite of the characters being introduced in a way that made them look rather one dimensional, like the strong silent type for the leader, the cool guy and his jester sidekick, the fat and skinny contrasting duo, and one who is a stickler for the rules.

But before you jump to conclusions that movies like these follow a feel good formula of male bonding, camaraderie and the likes, with each of them helping one another out through difficulties from the trip, Goodbye Boys offers a lot more. Perhaps drawing from personal experiences and adding a dash of dramatic license to package the story, helped bring across a sense of familiarity that you would find easy to identify with the issues being presented. Herein lies its strength. You'd come to realize that the characters have a lot of background which slowly unfolds itself as the story progresses, that in the end, everything changes, for better or worse.

Beneath the veneer of simplicity, lies a fairly intricate web of themes and issues presented, as they float in and out of the story depending on the character in focus. Never preachy, and at times bringing along a chuckle or two, Goodbye Boys is extraordinary in its deft handling of the subject matter, and the associated growing pains - of various tests, relationships, friendships, and the unknown future.

Movie Rating:

(An elegant portrayal of teenagers coming of age, coupled with a deft handling of issues they face)

Review by Stefan Shih

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