In this story of a filmmaker who is literally at breaking point in every aspect of his life, there is still humour to be found in this rather deadpan comedy from writer-director Maung Sun.
The making of Wai Bhone’s first feature film is not going the way he planned. Struggling to get the shots he needs in the time he is given, actors not turning up to set and his brother-in-law causing problems along the way. On top of this, the production company isn’t being patient with his artistic view and his wife is worried that they are behind with the rent, again. All Wai needs to solve his problems is money which always seems to be running away from him.
From the opening scene about the censorship of his first feature, it’s also the censorship of the very film we’re watching. Cutting out certain words, sex scenes, violence and the inclusion of the police more, all these things we watch throughout the film, but we don’t actually see them. Cut together in an innovative story structure, Wai Bhone’s film is within the film itself. At times a satirical view of the Burmese film industry and a comment on struggling artists and when is it time to stop and give up and when is time to play the final card.
Seeing how the industry works, with exaggerated censorship and constricting parameters filmmakers find themselves, Money Has Four Legs explores the humour, even including a full-blown comedic dream sequence after a robbery that goes right. The deadpan looks that are shared between the characters are also some of the best moments, especially during a scene in a very noisy bar where Wai Bhone tries to act cool in front of the producer he is blackmailing. Trying to mimic how they do things in Hollywood but instead coming across as brilliantly and painfully amusing.
With the title a nod to Animal Farm and its iconic line ‘Two legs bad, four legs good’, this scene from the 1954 film echoes how society works and in turn influences how we view Money Has Four Legs. The story isn’t just about a filmmaker’s struggle to make art but also how he and his family are perceived by others in power, those with money. The comedy up against the sometimes-harsher realities of trying to make a living in the film industry is entertaining but most importantly we get see how far a director will go to make sure their film is completed; the film has true passion.
Money Has Four Legs is playing now at BFI London Film Festival 6-17 October