Writer and Director: Maung Sun
This sweet-natured comedy about a Burmese film director trying to make a living will certainly resonate with many filmmakers. While making his first feature Wai Bhone struggles to hold on to his artistic integrity but soon realises that he may have to act like the characters in his film if he wants to retain control over his vision.
Money Has Four Legs begins as a satire on the Burmese film industry. Wai Bhone is remaking a classic film that has already been remade many times over. However, he wants to change the ending, but his producer won’t let him. The producer also wants the violent scenes turned into romantic ones, less swearing and health warnings about the cigarette smoking.
Things on set aren’t much better; some actors haven’t bothered to read the script, and others simply don’t turn up. In order to make up for the lead actor’s absence, Wai Bhone decides to film a crucial scene without him. His experimental strategy proves to be costly.
Back at home, his wife is about to lose her job as a teller in the local bank, and their landlady has begun to show other tenants around their apartment. Wai Bhone enlists the help of his brother-in-law to find some money.
It’s this plotline that gives the film its name. Unlike humans, money has four legs meaning that despite how fast you run, money will always be in front, too far to catch up on. And when you need to pay, money will always find you, however hard you sprint. There’s also an allusion to George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The impoverished young director’s daughter watches a cartoon version of the 1945 novella where the animals are chanting ‘Four legs are better than two!’ Of course, Orwell was a policeman in Burma in the 1930s and his presence comes up again when Wai Bhone takes from his shelf a copy of 1984. These quiet reminders of the times when Burma was a British colony are intriguing and you can’t help but wish director Maung Sun had done more to interrogate the legacy of imperialism.
Instead, Money Has Four Legs is a crime caper, and this change in gear is a little disappointing, There seemed to be plenty more laughs to be had in Wai Bhone’s moviemaking mishaps. The bungled heist has its moments and Wai Bhone (a likeable Okkar Dat Khe) and his sidekick have a charming chemistry, but the film loses its momentum and its satirical edge. Still, the final scene is very funny proving that even four legs are faster than four wheels.
Money Has Four Legs is screening at the London Film Festival.