Ilo Ilo 爸妈不在家 [SQ Inflight]

The best Singapore movie since Roystan's controversial "15". Both may appear different at first glance but thematically they could be brothers, albeit likely from different fathers. Homegrown son Anthony Chen has given us a heartwarming, simple story of the modern Singapore family. However, despite its sincerity, the Romanticising of the central characters frequently rang false. Which led to an unabashedly shameless, emotional-baiting, penultimate scene. Having said that, the scene would not have worked if not for the wonderful performances by Yeo Yann Yann (who really ought to run for Lead Actress rather than Supporting Actress) and Filipina actress Angela Bayani. Chen Tianwen also gave a career best performance, and young actor Koh Jia Le was believable in his more emotional-heavy scenes. Unfortunately, the writing was the biggest let down. Other than the extremely grating use of blatant Singlish which truly does not sound like that (Learn from Roystan Tan and not Jack Neo and co.), the lack of character development and backstory for our main protagonist reduced the audience empathy for her; her bond with her ward could also have been better explored and developed. This could be due to budgetary constraints though. Directing-wise, Anthony did a great job. Moving the story well at a good pace, always engaging the audience with little snippets of information to keep them just half a step behind and invested to follow it through. The POV changed smoothly but too quickly and diluted the audience's empathy with the characters. Also certain scenes felt more late 80s/early 90s rather than the late 90s of the Asian financial crisis. Nonetheless, Yeo's outstanding performance as an overworked, under-appreciated and dedicated Mother/Wife coupled with a truly original and inherently sincere story makes this movie a local pride to be watched. 


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