Sparse and morbid, Apprentice is not the easiest watch, but the questions it raises about morality and mortality make it a gut-wrenching polemic about capital punishment.
While the script is a little too tidy at times, it’s difficult to care too much – the dilemmas proposed by each (slightly convenient) plot turn give us fascinating new developments both thematically and in terms of character.
Our central character Aiman (Rahman, gritty and intense) is compelling throughout as his motives become simultaneously revealed yet hidden from us – we know what he wants, and why – but why? A spot-on ending encapsulates this contradiction perfectly.
You’d be hard-pressed to call it enjoyable, but Apprentice grips and repulses in equal measure as it intriguingly marks the difference between Aiman’s internal and external motivations for his actions.
CAST: Firdaus Rahman, Mastura Ahmad, Wan Hanafi Su
DIRECTOR: Junfeng Boo
WRITER: Junfeng Boo
SYNOPSIS: Aiman (Rahman), a correctional officer, gets transferred to the largest prison in the area, where he develops an intense fascination with the hangman, Koon, and the nature of capital punishment.
Apprentice was screened in Un Certain Regard at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.