From the outside looking in, the grass always appears greener.
Malaysia to a foreigner’s perspective is normally attributed with its bountiful cultures and diversity. However, any Malaysian will know that with diversity, comes systemic racism that trickles its way down the pipeline and consequently affects future generations.
Interracial marriage is meant to be a celebration of unity amongst varying cultures, yet there is still an existing stigma that remains present until this day.
Many couples face the trials and tribulations of marrying outside their race be it having awkward conversations laced with racial prejudice at the dinner table, hearing sensationalised rumours from whispering neighbours or even, at the most extreme, being exiled from one’s family altogether.
When it comes to the marriage of Mia (a Malay woman) and Daniel (a Chinese man) in the short film Can You Love Me Most?, this stigma thrusted the couple into desperate attempts to remain in the good graces of not only their family, but society as a whole.
Can You Love Me Most? is a nuanced and vital look at the way society treats newly married couples and the archaic expectations that come along with it.
The twist is, the story is being told through the lens of the byproduct of marriage: A newborn infant.
The film is helmed in first-person perspective and we, as the viewers, witness Mia and Daniel’s struggle to stay together despite the odds they have been dealt.
Engulfed in pressure, the couple decide to buy a baby through a human-trafficking syndicate after years of trying to conceive.
Mia is our protagonist and the desperation in her eyes is apparent in every scene. She is desperate to keep her marriage intact, to please her parents who yearn for a grandchild and to be accepted by society again after marrying outside her race.
But above all else, she is desperate for the joy that comes with motherhood.
Abandoning all inhibitions, the couple manage to bring the baby home and just when it seems like everything is going to be okay, the film takes a sharp turn for the worst.
Racial prejudice, traditional female archetypes, corruption and exploitation play a massive role in Can You Love Me Most?’s strong narrative.
Check out the teaser below:
Despite the 15-minute long runtime, all of these issues surface gracefully and strike an important conversation that we should be having in today’s generation. Is it right to continue the mindset of the past if it brings nothing but pain to those in the future?
The fact that this movie was told through the eyes of an innocent baby solidifies this message even further.
Should new wives fall into a depression if they are unable to conceive at the same pace as their peers?
Should interracial couples go above and beyond to preserve their union in the eyes of outsiders?
Should young mothers be subjected to perpetual inner turmoil for conceiving out-of-wedlock while their male counterpart runs free from all responsibilities?
It is an undeniable fact that Malaysia is a beautiful country, but that does not mean it is exempt from deeply-entrenched flaws.
Thrilling, heart-wrenching and evergreen, Can You Love Me Most? is an important film that compensates for its lack in duration with its abundance of pressing social topics.
The film directed by Feisel Azizuddin (of Temenggor success) will be making its international premiere at Monterrey International Film Festival 2021 today until 29 August.
While the film isn’t available to stream for Malaysians just yet, we at JUICE, who received an early viewing, can assure you that once it is out, it is definitely worth watching.