Zihua (Alaric Tay) and Ah Hui (Adam Chen) are two long time friends. They suspect that their wives are cheating on them. In order to allay their suspicions, they decide to "test" their wives by having the other write a love letter to the other's wife, to see if she will respond. But as they get caught up in their ploy, they start to ignore their own wives. Subsequently, their lonely wives also start to respond to the love letters that they received.
“18 Grams of Love” is Han Yew Kwang’s second full-length feature (after “Unarmed Combat”) and boy does it show promise for the budding director. Unlike most shot-on-a-budget local movies, “18 Grams of Love” doesn’t display any of that excessive arty-fartiness that aspiring directors like to (well) aspire to. No, Han Yew Kwang’s film is a rare treat because it combines its arthouse sensibilities with a perfectly commercially assessible story to deliver a winning package.
Its premise is simple and yet elegant- two best friends, Hui (Adam Chen) and Zi Hua (Alaric Tay) suspect that their wives may be unfaithful and decide to test their spouses’ loyalty by writing love letters to each other’s wives. “18 Grams of Love” doesn’t spend a ponderous time explaining its premise; rather, it moves swiftly to build the consequences of a seemingly innocuous and amusing act, which is really the point of the whole movie.
But to get there, writer/director Han Yew Kwang has inserted many a comical and even downright hilarious setups. Indeed, his spot-on comic timing is apparent right from the get-go, when both Hui and Zi Hua introduce their wives and their predicament to the audience. From there, Han carefully weaves the threads of hidden identities, unfulfilling marriages and tempestuous possibilities into a well-crafted film.
What sets “18 Grams of Love” apart from other local movies is that it really has a story to tell (instead of running out of steam- and plot- halfway). There may not be a lot by way of twists and surprises, but “18 Grams of Love” succeeds by taking a simple and meaningful story, and telling it in a unique and inventive way. Most of all, it doesn’t try to be smarter than its audience, the same of which cannot be said of many local films in general.
It is even more surprisingly that Han Yew Kwang has managed to deliver such an accomplished film by just a S$150,000 budget. Certainly, you won’t be able to tell from its lush sets and rich production values that almost put bigger-budget (Jack Neo) movies to shame. The accomplishment is also thanks to the stellar performances of its essentially four-member cast, who give their respective characters their own singular voice.
And like all good movies should, “18 Grams of Love” leaves you with something to think about- in this case, to never forget all those loving moments in the past when love in the present gets rough. “18 Grams of Love” is one of the best local movies ever made; and perhaps one of the most touching as well. And perhaps its greatest triumph is how it manages to accomplish the above without resorting to any cloying sentimentality or arty-farty shenanigans.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Just the trailer of the movie which I highly recommend you not to watch before the movie so you’ll enjoy the best parts even better.
The disc’s visual transfer is excellent, bringing out the colours of the film (shot in HD by the way) very vividly. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio will suffice for a mostly talky picture.
by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 21 August 2009