La Luna – Is It Really Insensitive?: A Muslim Woman’s POV

La Luna

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As a Muslim woman myself, who also loves my freedom, I am called to write about La Luna.

The Singaporean-Malay romantic comedy features freedom vs religion. Which is very sensitive, especially for Muslims. Of course, a lot of critiques appear (me too, included? I wouldn’t say that I’m a critic, but a reviewer.) Some are okay with the movie, and some are not.

La ‘True Synopsis’

The synopsis that you would find everywhere tells you that it’s a story about;

How a liberated woman named Hanie Abdullah (Sharifah Amani) survived in a small village called Kampong Bras Basah – which is a stagnant village with an orthodoxly pious village head called Tok Hassan. With her remodelling a house inherited from her late grandfather as a lingerie shop (cum her house) and how she defends her business in the village from the ‘Islamic rules’ steeled by Tok Hassan.

La Luna
The lingerie collection (Source: FMT)

What you don’t know is, it’s so little about her, that it’s about the view of Tok Hassan on human rights. In this, Tok Hassan symbolises the close-minded people, Kampung Bras Basah symbolizes the prison separating people from their rights, and La Luna symbolizes the rays of light.

It would be right to create a new synopsis that sounds like this;

La Luna is a story about how the people of Kampung Bras Basah become aware of their human rights reminded by a liberated woman named Hanie with her arrival as the rays of light in the form of a lingerie shop named La Luna – while chained by orthodox Islamic derivation of rules made by Tok Hassan himself.

La Luna
Tok Hassan with his sus vibe (Source: FMT)

The difference is one synopsis talks about Hanie and the other synopsis talks about the people of Kampong Bras Basah. Because that’s the progress of the movie, the people. Hanie is just one variable.

La ‘Village Rules’

If I were to give you a picture, Kampong Bras Basah is like a small village in rural ares of Malaysia. Muslim Malaysians know of certain areas where Islamic piousness within the community could be very strong. Muslims who are not wearing proper clothing are deemed immoral and will be fined, smoking is looked down upon and can be fined, advertisements are filtered based on visuals on the cover, and liberation is a thing that is not out in the open, but the welfare of the people is subpar.

Kampong Bras Basah is that kind of village. Among the rules of the village that were shown in the movies are; no loud music (not even in your car while driving) other than the azan (prayer call) and Islamic recitations. No smoking for women but okay for men (???), no proximity between Muslim men and women with no ties. (Subtle, but) making it a norm for women to come to Friday prayer (which is not compulsory in Islam), no leisure anecdotes in the sermon (khutbah) or religious talks (tazkirah), no petition without the approval of Tok Hassan, no ‘improper’ arts, no nosiness in other people’s marriage (even though it involves domestic violence) etc. You can watch the movie to see more examples.

La Luna
Maryam is the character that is abused by her husband, Pa’at (Source: TIFF)

If the villagers are caught doing those prohibited things, they will be subjected to a fine or doing community service work.

La ‘Muslim POV’

As a Muslim, I believe all the rules mentioned are derived from Islamic guidelines itself. However, Islam also has its ways of enforcing the guidelines without blocking people from their rights – basically what the whole movie is trying to tell people.

For me, the rules are acceptable per se, but the way Tok Hassan acts like a god himself to the level of oppressing the villagers of their human rights is very disturbing. Not to mention the way Tok Hassan picked the rules he wanted to enforce are only the rules that benefit his dominance assertion. Some of them are not even compulsory things in Islam, only frowned upon – he’s riding the religion.

La Luna
Tok Hassan sitting right next to Imam Fauzi, the one whom he controlled as his puppet (Source: CinemaOnline)

So, it’s okay for men to smoke? Is it okay for guys to pee while standing in a praying robe? Is it okay to bribe? Is it okay to spread false rumours and abuse your wife? Is it okay to burn someone’s house?

Yes, we are not allowed to be in proximity with the opposite gender, but to the point of standing meters away under a bus stop, disregarding the function of the amenity looks like selfish reasoning and this will make the religion look unfair.

In another instance, I agree that doing something ‘lagha’ (useless things) is not good for your productivity and makes us prone to doing it more. But to the point of fining people who listen to loud music in their car? That’s too stretchy, isn’t it? Don’t come at me saying the loud music will distract the driver’s focus. It will if you are driving on a busy road which could cause an accident. Even if so, the rules in action are not Islamic law, but civil law.

It’s Nik Elin’s case all over again.

What I’m trying to say is, that in Islam, we are taught to be moderate in everything. And as a leader, you must be fair and be a good role model.

Although, there’s one scene that I frowned upon regardless of the point of the story. Why did Hanie ambush Tok Hassan in a men’s toilet? To point out that Tok Hassan peeing while standing? (in Islam, men are not encouraged to do that especially if they are wearing the attire that they use to pray). NO. There are SO many other ways to create that situation.

La Luna
The scene in question. Like, why Hanie? (Source: Variety)

La ‘Modern Woman POV’

Of course, freedom is important. But the movie does not point to freedom per se. It’s highlighting human rights.

Does a woman have a right to defend herself from being abused by her husband? YES. Does a husband have a right to ‘educate’ his wife and hit her if she disobeys him? NO. And how you define disobey mirrored yourself. But it gives people no right to the point of committing assaults and battery.

The same goes for Hanie. She has the right to open a business if she does not obstruct other villagers from working their daily routines. And Azura, she has the right to make a petition.

La Luna
The signboard translates; “Men are prohibited” (Source: CinemaOnline)

Some would say ‘When in Rome, do what the Romans do.’. Meaning that Hanie should respect the villagers’ way of life. But I don’t see Hanie disrespecting anything instead of helping. If it’s because she’s a free-haired Muslim, it’s another point of the movie – too busy judging the appearance of a person that you miss the other kindness the person did. Even the covered person did something far worse than what she did that one thing wrong.

What I see in the movie is, that apart from the help towards prisoners, Hanie helped the villagers a lot! She ignites the sparks that had long been lost in people’s marriages. She provides a safe space for women and people in general and she provides working experience for a teenager that will soon venture out of her life. Ultimately, she did not change the villagers, but make them better.

La Luna
The improved relationship between Enah and her husband (Source: TIFF)

She definitely, did not fight against any proper rulings except the nonsense ones.

La ‘Verdict’

As a whole, La Luna for me, as a film, is predictable, corny, and subpar… but the camera work, the editing angles and colouration are sublime. Rarely you could see those in Malay movies. however, the aforementioned downsides of the movie made me forget about the beauties. Let’s just say, La Luna is K.O-ed by its contradictions.

For the messages, there’s nothing you didn’t know if you are already aware of your human rights. It’s meant for validation and ‘on your face’ purpose for the close-minded people who still think that freedom and human rights are not aligned with Islamic teachings.

All in all, despite Sharifah Amani being the dream woman for many cool-kid guys, and Shaheizy Sam, the cute macho guy being the dream of some delulu women, this movie is not it. I give it 4/10. Originally, I would like to give it 2/10, but since there are a lot of messages and girls’ power! – I added 2 more points.

With that, I end my post, if you would like to read our film reviews, you may find them here.

Author

  • Dianさま

    Dian - a 98% introvert with a mind like a black hole, she is like the lovechild of Senku and Hisoka, armed with ideas and logics sharper than a lightsaber. Social gatherings? Nah, it's either dissecting the latest anime/manga/kdrama breakthrough or debate the merits of time travel. 200% INTP.

3 thoughts on “La Luna – Is It Really Insensitive?: A Muslim Woman’s POV

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