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Friday, August 11, 2006

"Singapore Dreaming"

Singapore Dreaming
In my opinion, there are only two kinds of Singaporean full-length movies:
  1. Those that feature Singapore's seedy underbelly
  2. Those that feature the average layman's failure to achieve the 5Cs*
"Singapore Dreaming" falls under the second category. Why shouldn't I be surprised?

Frankly, I'm quite tired of seeing such movies. It's as if every filmmaker wants the world to know that Singapore is a land of opportunity, but not for the average Joe. Just once, I'd like to see a movie that shows someone succeeding in Singapore. Not because I think the country needs more propaganda, but to balance the impressions that non-Singaporeans are getting.

Okay, with that out of my system...

"Singapore Dreaming" tells the story of a family that is torn apart by ambition and greed. It reminds everyone that the simple life is the best life that anyone can hope to achieve. Family, love, understanding -- these are the ingredients to a happy life. Money is the root of all evil and an overseas education doesn't necessarily make one superior to locally educated graduates.

Any of that sound familiar?

What I found confusing was the lack of a lead character. Initially, I thought that it was the father -- until he was written out halfway. Then I thought it was the son, but he didn't have a good ending. It could've been the daughter, but she seemed more like a supporting character to flesh out the motivations of the father and son. That left the mother, but she was in the background so much that I couldn't think of her as the lead.

So throughout the movie, I found my focus flitting from one character to the next, and that left me, well, unfocussed. Everyone had a story to tell, which I felt made the film too multi-layered to follow. Or maybe I've become too accustomed to the hero-centric model of storytelling.

If only the film could have been saved by fine acting. Alas, all of the actors went about their roles in a hum-drum manner. The only stand-out performer was the old woman in the opening portion of the film. Her colourful cursing brought the house down. Alas, that was the only highlight of the film.

"Singapore Dreaming" is a mirror to our own lives in our little nation. Unfortunately, so are a lot of other made-in-Singapore movies, and there's nothing in this one that makes it outstanding. Watch it only if you want to watch a more-or-less English language Singaporean film.

* 5Cs - car, credit card, cash, condominium, country club

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

really great movie.i even had a tear or two.makes you be thankfull for what you have even it is not much.the ending of the movie was very good.not matter if you live in singapore or america we all share the same things.YES it is the simple things that are best.

Yuhui said...

Yes, it was a good movie. A tad too sappy for my liking, but overall quite good.

Anonymous said...

I am an American but found this movie to be universal in its message. While I enjoyed seeing the Singapore culture portrayed instead of the usual American view, it was the same message that has been portrayed in movies since movies began. I cried, I laughed, I was saddened...a GOOD movie should move one to do all of the above and more. We all have a brother like Seng, we all have family jealousies and rivalries, we all have dreams unfulfilled...who couldn't relate to that! I have made many friends in Singapore on the net and it was nice to see some of the things we have talked about like the maid situation, the steamboat meal, and the govt flats. I already learned from our chats that we are alike in more ways than we realize, but it was nice to visually see their world too. This movie will remain in my memory a long time.

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