In the Malaysian short film quirkily titled “Coofie & Sexy Dress”, a middle-aged family man tries desperately to evade his creditors. Sounds familiar? Well, of course, it is, but director Jaemin Park tries to use this basic story to talk about acceptance, family, hierarchy, patriarchy and a father-daughter bond that is likable, albeit not always convincingly told or executed.

As the title suggests, an important plot point is the way the protagonist’s daughter dresses, leading to an integral shaping of attitudes within the film, serving also as a commentary on the conservative Malay society and expectations of conduct from women, and how once the tensions are cooled and fresh perspective introduced, truly loving relationships may emerge.

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Hence, the focal point in the climax becomes about acceptance; although within the timeframe of the film, the change of heart feels sudden and jarring, in spite of the father almost miraculously escaping the difficult situation.

The technical qualities are mostly good, especially with sound design and use of the L-Cut in a pivotal scene involving jimmying a lock. The storytelling too, is largely lucid, if only it hadn’t been hurried towards the end and gone over the build-up a little more quickly. Despite this, to the director’s credit, the film, for the most part, manages to keep itself engaging.

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