Monday, March 27, 2006

[SIFF'06] The Art of Flirting - As Told in Four Chapters

There are four local movies premiering at this year's SIFF, and looking at the lineup, you have offerings from Royston Tan, Colin Goh, and Kelvin Tong. Folks whom you've already heard of from movies like 15, Talking Cock, and The Maid. How about Kan Lume? No? Neither did I, until recently when a friend highlighted to keep my eyes peeled for his works. You can view his "The Guest" here at this link, from last year's Canon DVFest

The Art of Flirting - As Told in Four Chapters, is the feature length film version of his award winning short I, Promise. I had the opportunity and privilege of watching this movie in a special screening, and I must say, if you have not watched any local movies at all, or have dismissed them as either being too commercial or too arthouse, then you must give this movie a shot. It's easily accessible and you'll find elements in it which you can identify with, or even learn from, given its drawing upon material that you can probably guess from its title.

Lynn is a magazine writer, beautiful, sassy. Leo is a sports celebrity turned businessman (think Leslie Kwok type), articulate, hunky. They meet because of work - Leo is her latest feature writeup, and they slowly hit it off. Observe the mind games, the sweet tongues, the games people play. But the beauty of the movie, is in its rich, deep dialogue. Sure you can pick up some subtle hints on wooing and playing coy, but you'll probably be drawn into the plot of what-happens-next, rather than looking out for the next tip.

It's a "talky" movie, no doubt. Before you start yawning, I assure you, listen carefully to the dialogue. It brings out the personalities of the characters, and it touches on many aspects of relationships throughout the entire spectrum, it's astonishing to witness so much scope being covered in a compact 80 minutes. From both a guy's and a girl's point of view about the whole flirting-relationship game.

But what truly works are the two leads, Marilyn Lee and Leonard Yeo. This movie genre of having a long conversational piece hinges so strongly on their delivery, that should they lack a certain chemistry, the entire movie would just fall flat into the land of mediocrity, and render it hokey and unbelievable. Thankfully, both of them seemed to have worked up a great pairing, with the appropriate chemistry, making them very believable characters in various stages in a relationship, so much so that they can easily be you or I, discussing the exact same things. It helps that they are eye-candy as well, but one thing's for sure, and it's somehow uncanny, having good voices helped to make it easier to tune in to what they have to say. And the language and banter between the two are so natural, you won't for one moment think that it's contrived.

It's not only your ears are teased, but the visuals too. Initially I thought the camera-jerking style might be alluded to the uneasiness of first encounters, but as the movie progresses, I wonder if it's the intention of the director to draw audiences into the world of Lynn and Leo, in a voyeuristic style. To listen in, to watch for ourselves, as a reflection in a mirror asking, have we done the same, have we said the same?

And it's highly likely, if you've been in relationships before, that you've encountered, or have actually done and said what the characters have. Your fears, your desires, your hopes and dreams. It is this aspect that makes the movie engaging, on one level to view the movie, and on the other, subconsciously questioning yourself on these issues.

With local films, it's always neat to spot locales where scenes are done, and I particularly liked the supermarket one, for its very "guerilla" style of having the supermarket's piped in music play various love songs while the characters go shopping. I thought it was an effective way of setting the scene which accompanied it - romance is in the air, literally.

This movie will provoke a reaction from you, whether or not you're a guy or a girl, whether or not you agree or disagree with what transpired on screen. And by that I mean while it plays out in a fairly straightforward manner from act to act, you'll be transfixed right up to the very final scene, by the time the end credits roll, there is so much to talk about that you absolutely will feel the urge to digest it with someone else. If it's someone close and significant, I would say it's even better.

Whether you're spoilt for choice, or want to watch a local film during SIFF, do not forget to add this to your watch list. And let me know what you think after you've watched it.

The Art of Flirting - As Told in Four Chapters, premieres at the 19th Singapore International Film Festival 2006, on 24th April 06 (Monday) at 1900hrs, National Museum (yes, you read that right).

The Art of Flirting synopsis from the SIFF website:

And here's the link to buy your tickets (before it sells out):

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