By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
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IF YOU CATCH ANYBODY coming out of the cineplex after watching ‘Hold Me Tight’, don’t be surprised to see them leaving with puffy eyes and a red nose.

Set in Melaka, most may expect the movie to be shot against its more iconic sites like the bustling street of Jonker Walk or maybe A Famosa Fort.

Most of the scenes, however, were shot against the city’s beautiful hidden gems like its calm serene backdrop of paddy fields and unspoilt beaches.

Besides that, I like the way the movie was shot in unconventional and unassuming settings such as secluded kampong areas and places that look like your nearby food stalls or coffee shops where you grab your favourite kolo mee and coffee, which is helped to bring a measure of realism to the movie by highlighting where locals usually would hang out.

Highlighting family values, the movie explore the story of two women from different backgrounds as they face the challenges of troubled and troubling relationships with their family that most of us would recognise and relate to in our own family lives.

Featuring local talents, Remon Lim and Jazz Bai Lin as ‘Ah Lian’ and ‘Shirley’ respectively, the chemistry between these two is absolutely charming and endearing.

Ah Lian is a single mother of two who finds herself struggling to support her family by running a small business selling noodles after her husband died 10 years ago. While suffering a strained relationship with her estranged son, she also struggles being the sole breadwinner of the family who has to take care of her internet-addicted daughter and senile but caring father-in-law who sometimes surprises the family with his random words of wisdom.

The tension between Ah Lian and her son, Xiang, goes back to when he was 14 years old and had been sent to a youth detention centre after beating a man he thought had had an affair with his mother.

Still upset and disappointed with his mother years later, Xiang has not been in contact with his family for 10 years, only to discover in the end that everything he heard about his mother were rumors and his mother had never had an affair after all.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Shirley seems to have it all: money, beauty and the perfect family although she is actually far from being happy.

Separated from her husband and neglected by her successful lawyer son, she sometimes wonders what could have been if she ended up with her former lover instead of marrying her husband who she has no feelings for but blindly adores her nonetheless.

The journey of finding happiness and self-appreciation of these two friends begins when Ah Lian decides to reconcile with her son, Xiang in Muar after finding out she is already in stage four cancer.

Accompanied by the bubbly Shirley who manages to find fun in every little thing, the duo encountered a series of unfortunate events along with colourful mismatched characters managing to find peace along the way.

From meeting a young yet insightful cancer survivor in the form of a truck driver, to getting cheated by a devious scheming taxi driver with a conscience and a diva of a transgendered person who runs a restaurant, Ah Lian and Shirley’s misadventures will have the audience cracking up in laughter and have them in tears through the heartbreaking scenes.

Besides its straightforward storyline, there a lot of separate issues within the movie such as the struggling life of a single parent who feels unappreciated, to the children who do not communicate enough with their parents, and friendship.

As the saying goes, blood is thicker than water, ‘Hold Me Tight’, highlights the importance of relationships between family and true friendship. The movie really makes you feel like you need to cherish those around you more and appreciate what they do for you as you never know how long they will be around.

Overall, there is never a dull moment in the movie as it may make you cry and laugh at the same time and it is absolutely worth spending one hour and a half of your time watching it.

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