The thing about relationships is the risk that it'll run stale, a party being taken for granted, or the notion finally settling in that it's just not up to what one would expect from it. In Derrick Lui's When Night Fa11s, this gets examined through the alternating points of view of a couple who have seemed to lost what had once bound them together, now experiencing literal opposites like the imagery of blackest night and brightest light.
And this mismatch cannot be more keenly felt between Eternity (Desmond Tan) and Wei Wei (Jessica Tan, Miss Singapore Universe 2007), a couple hitting the brick wall in problems with each other. For the guy, it's all about being able to continue bringing home the bacon after losing his job, which in Singapore's context, may mean hitting the roads and driving a cab, spending long though flexible hours with time spent driving being proportional to the revenue generated by the meter. For the girl, this translates to a yearning and longing for more time spent with her partner, and the limited time she has, epitomized by that 11th hour in the film's title, is all that she's getting.
It's the classic mismatch of expectations and the realization that fantasy has to give way to reality, and how this reality can draw out either maturity in a relationship, or start to pose problems. For the idle mind with Wei Wei spending plenty of time alone at home to question and fantasize, it boils down to regrets and second guesses, where the loneliness and silence experienced becomes an unfortunate norm serving as a catalyst to doom a relationship. Which you'll feel a certain sense of heart-wringing when you come to know of Eternity's very grounded approach in that basal nature of wanting to provide nothing but the best for a loved one, but I suppose a failure to communicate expectations translates to change being unaddressed, and unexpected until it's too late.
Derrick's narrative here switches between points of view, and for each there's his unmistakable take on relationships through the character's monologue and voiceovers. I felt that while the actors performed credibly, perhaps it is their voiceovers that needed some improvement in eliciting depth in emotion rather than to sound like reading off a script. Bang Wen Fu's music becomes a key component then to make up for this, and thankfully overpowers Desmond Tan's falsetto voice in providing measured pace that the narrative has to develop under. I would love to know if Derrick Lui has a "silent version", or contemplated one where the music and the cast's acting ability could have carried the film on its own than to make it a rather "talkie" narrative, as sometimes it may work with the visuals serving to tell a story, than to lead audiences into a definitive outcome rather than one that allows them to explore. According to Jessica Tan's blog entry here, the film was indeed shot without any dialogue.
Cinematography by Lim Beng Huat provides that wistful look, accentuating the dreams one possesses, and the harsh reality that another has to deal with, which includes a seduction and scene of temptation as acted out by Jeszlene Zhou in a temptress role without dialogue. I thought this scene on one hand could have been done without, but on the other serves to show how strong and stoic Eternity's love for Wei Wei is, unwavering in his loyalty even though opportunities such as these rear their ugly heads from time to time, and then adding to that heart-wrench when things unseen couldn't account for anything to damper the lost of hope.
When Night Fa11s can be somewhat depressing to sit through given the themes that it explored in under 20 minutes, reminding one and all that love is about timing, having the stars to align and the chips all falling at the right places.
It was recently announced that the film has been officially selected to the I've Seen Films - 2010 International Film Festival held in Milan, Italy, and is under both its International Competition Selection, and its Internet Contest as one amongst 278 competing short films from more than 58 countries.
You can click here to browse through the films in International Competition, and click on this link to find out more about the Internet Contest, to watch and to lend your support of course!
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