It has been a week since I caught this much hyped about local film in the cinema. The film received a 15-minute standing ovation, and also won the coveted Camera d’Or prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
So yes, I was expecting it to be good. But what I didn’t expect was for it to resonate so much that I couldn’t stop thinking about it ever since catching it. I’ve been reading articles & reviews, watching interviews, and looking more into the works of Anthony Chen.
Having studied the films of Eric Khoo and Royston Tan back in university, this was such a breath of fresh air. This is not to take anything away from the two directors. But it seemed that their work featured a lot more drama and relied on controversial storylines in order to make their mark.
In comparison, Ilo Ilo was so real, so relatable, so “a day in the life of”. The subtlety and nuances behind the characterization was amazing to watch. Anthony only dropped hints and slowly revealed bits & pieces of their lives, thus allowing a gradual build of layers of his characters.
The movie also portrayed an interesting snapshot of Singapore in the ’90s, depicting how the Asian Financial Crisis had impacted lots of families and their way of living.
From an interview with Anthony that I watched, I couldn’t have said it better myself:
“I’m less interested in plot. I’m less interested in dramatic twists, or huge turning points for the sake of creating drama. I’m more interested in characters. So for me, it is always character-driven. It is always focused on characters more than on plot. The characters - some of the nuances, the events…”
If this is only his first feature film, I can’t wait to see what else he will have in-store.