Film Review: The Last Reel

Article by Amanda Kim

The film “The Last Reel” tells a story of the sufferings of love and the discreetness of revealing the whole truth. The main protagonist, Sophoun is a typical teenager who lives life in the comfort of her own being. As she rebels against her father’s demands of an arrangement marriage and constantly comes home late and looks over her fragile mother, Sophoun begins to learn the truth of the tragedy behind the Khmer Rouge and the affect it left behind.

One day after a frenzy fight between Veasna and Vichea, Sophoun is left alone to find her way back to the cinema to retrieve her motorcycle. When she sees that the cinema is closed, she finds a way to sneak into the cinema to see a film being played on the screen of an actress who looks just like herself. Fascinated by this, Sophoun makes her way up to find who is playing the film. Upon this discovery, Sophoun comes across a man named Sothea who claims that he is the director of the film that is being played on the screen.

Upon learning that Sothea is the director of the film, “The long way home”, Sophoun is determined to shoot the ending to show her mother. Along the filming process of the ending, Sophoun learns that Sothea was in loved with Sophoun’s mother and believed that she was dead all along. When Sophoun takes her mother to see Sothea, a confusion is stirred when we learned that Sothea was pretending to be his older brother Sokhal. Sokhal was the director of the film, “The long way home” and the actor who played the prince in the film. His younger brother played the masked peasant who secretly loved Sophoun’s mother all this time.

The last reel was never lost from the beginning. Sothea had been lying to Sophoun so that he can create the ending in the way in which the princess ended up with the masked peasant (Sothea) instead of the prince (Sokhal). Although Sothea couldn’t fake reality, he wanted to recreate it in his own fantasy of getting the girl he loved.

After the Khmer Rouge occurred, Sothea sold out his brother so that he can break up Sophoun’s mother and Sokhol. Later we learned that it is Sophoun’s father who killed Sokhol due to his duty as a soldier, and later marries Sophoun’s mother to take her out of misery and away from the past as an actress.
The Khmer Rouge was a huge impact on many filmmakers and actors. In the end of the film, the director, Kulikar Sotho paid a tribute to the late filmmakers and actors who were highly affected by the Khmer Rouge.

Towards the end, Sophoun learns that the whole truth can never be revealed. Sophoun filmed the last of the film with her mother as the returning actress and for herself to take on closure of losing her loved one from the Khmer Rouge and to learn that Sophoun’s father was the one who saved her. Sophoun would jump to conclusion and blamed her strict father for mistreating her mother. Instead, we learn that Sophoun’s father carries pain as well, along with Sothea as well.

The film “The long way home” serves as a bond that brings the community closer to learn more about the history of Khmer Rouge and the tragedy that impacted the city.


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