Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Singapore Dreaming - The Second Viewing

The Family Portrait

I've said it before, if I like a movie, I'll watch it more than once on the big screen. It's taken me a bit of time to watch this as Richard and I were pooling our resources (time and money) together to get this group screening going (see earlier post), but watching it with 20 friends and countless other strangers (the hall was about 80% full), and experiencing the laughter and sadness together, made it all worthwhile.

I'm not going to recap what I've mentioned in my earlier review, but would like to focus on the bits that I really liked. So just as a warning, mild spoilers ahead, i.e. sublimal meaning is to go watch it first then come back here lah!

I love the acting, because the cast did a fantastic job with their respective characters. You'll feel sorry for them, some pity, you'll laugh with them, share in their joys and sorrows, and despise some of the damning things they do and say. On the surface and from the onset, you might think they're a bunch of happy people, but as we move along, the facade gets chipped away, and we see through their characters. However, their characters are so complex, you can't help but feel how real they are, and not just caricatures created to milk laughs or sympathy.

If one day we had a local movie award, I'd like to see Yeo Yann Yann take away one for best actress - seriously you'll feel for her character, the one always being overlooked, sidelined, mocked at, and in true human fashion, takes it out on someone else when she's feeling frustrated. For actor, supporting or otherwise, Richard Low's extremely charismatic screen presence and endearing father figure, deserves the kudos. As mentioned, the characters have their flaws, but these flaws are what is easily identifiable within ourselves, or easily seen in someone we know. Which makes this movie uniquely Singaporean, not because dialects or Singlish is used, not because of the showing of HDB flats or coffeeshops, or the myriad of scenes related to food, but rather, it shows us a mirror at which we see ourselves, looking and examining deep into our psyche as we relentlessly pursue our "dreams" - of the material kind.

And watching it again allowed me to revisit some of my favourite scenes, like the one in the toilet (yes) with the conversation between Father and Son, the family reunion dinner table, and I felt the traditions observed during the rituals could probably be one of the rare detailed few documented on local film too. The dialogues too worked wonders for me, as they were sharp and don't sound rehearsed, but really, really something that's pretty real in a local context.

Oh, and I liked the references to TalkingCock The Movie too - watch out for the movie shown in a television set, and the Auntie Auntie branded beer bottles! I'm sure there's more :-)

I've been quoted (first time too), but I'll say it again, Singapore Dreaming is just plain brilliant. Go watch it now if you have not, probably the most accessible local movie this year - if you're only gonna watch just one local movie, make it Singapore Dreaming! It's still in contention for my movie of the year. Bring on the DVD (but first go watch in cinema ok?)!

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