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The Clinic (2023) movie review: MoMI First Look



Photo provided courtesy of MoMI
Photo provided courtesy of MoMI

Movie Review: The Clinic (or ‘Sei Khen’) is an immersive, fly on the wall look at impoverished individuals in Myanmar. Director Midi Z’s film examines the makeshift, bandaid fixes utilized to buy another day by those lacking monetary resources.

Trading professional medical attention at a hospital for a barely sterilized ‘communal’ mattress in a Yangon clinic. Everything is in a constant state of procrastinated delay & desensitized sadness.

Thus, aspirations for higher art by protagonist Aung Min are never realized… Only critiqued without debate in the second half of the movie.

This (2023) ‘The Clinic’ film review contains spoilers. ‘The Clinic’ will screen at MoMI in Queens, New York on Sunday, March 17 2024 at 12:30 pm ET as part of their First Look 2024 program.

Throughout The Clinic you’ll see patients that are in great need of real hospitalization but can only afford the bare minimum to get them by. Maybe an extra pill, a quick shot, and promises to change. But nothing ever truly changes… Just empty words delivered with no receipt.

Photo provided courtesy of MoMI

The Clinic movie. Photo provided courtesy of MoMI

The first patient in the movie is a drunk with a massive infection in his leg who’s forced to Aung Min’s clinic by his mother. He’d been laying in pain for days at home but refused to attend to his wound until the pain was out of control. The mother also informs Aung Min that she herself is in bad health.

Even when Aung Min warns the patient to stop drinking or one day he might have to take his leg, you can tell it’s just delaying the inevitable.

Aung’s wife San San Oo, also a doctor, is similarly seen assisting the mother of an addict over the phone repeatedly without much progress. Every other day it seems, the addict waves a knife under the influence of Methamphetamine leading to another emergency call.

Photo provided courtesy of MoMI

The Clinic film. Photo provided courtesy of MoMI

The mother not only sounds helpless to restrain their child… But is in dire need of medication she lacks access to. Another patient turned in by their sister is said to be hearing voices and complaining of lice but real care can’t be administrated regularly because they live miles away from The Clinic.

Each time, Aung Min tells his patients to go to a hospital if things go wrong. Both Aung Min and San San Oo appear lackadaisical with their dosages, often asking patients how many they think they can personally get by on. Or measuring dosages roughly over the phone at best.

The Clinic (2023) movie. Photo provided courtesy of MoMI

The Clinic (2023) movie. Photo provided courtesy of MoMI

Few scenes stick out more than a patient having a seizure in Aung Min’s care and Min barely reacting. Only asking the patient’s family to take him to a hospital. As the patient is carried away, Aung Min is expressionless and seemingly fully desensitized.

The second half of ‘Sei Khen’:

Midway through The Clinic the spotlight shifts away from day-to-day patients to Aung Min’s personal aspirations to be a filmmaker. The only time you see Aung Min smiling in this movie is when he speaks of his grand idea to feature the cultural dynamics of Myanmar’s population.

But when Min’s idea becomes a fully fledged film at a festival, he stands motionless as an older man trashes the entire concept as offensive. In Aung Min’s own words on the audience member’s review of his film, “He sees the movie from a solider’s lens, I see it as filmmaker. We can’t agree.” When he returns to The Clinic his last smile appears to have left him for good.

The Clinic 2023 movie. Photo provided courtesy of MoMI

The Clinic 2023 movie. Photo provided courtesy of MoMI

Overall, The Clinic as a film isn’t structured in any traditional sense. But the viewer can’t help but look up Myanmar’s history and current status after watching this movie. In that sense, The Clinic is successful in getting the audience to explore a country they might not have otherwise.

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