Clara is a forty year old ‘tai tai’
(wealthy lady of leisure) who faces a mid life crisis and
decides to runaway to the only place that has ever made any
sense to her – the shopping centres. In the shopping
centres, she crosses path with other ‘creatures’
of the mall, namely, Renu, an eight-year old kid who has been
abandoned by her parents in a 24 hour mall; Aaron, an angst-y
twenty three year old who skives work to hang out at the mall
with his friends and Valentine, an ex-boyfriend who is now
manager of the bed and linen department on a popular store.
You may remember reading this columnist’s review of
Wee Li Lin’s debut feature film when it was released
theatrically in July last year. So why is he tasked to review
this DVD release then? Well, because he was quite a fan of
the film, and this disc is apparently a director’s cut
which Wee submitted for international film festivals. So in
an attempt to relive the melancholic enchantment that he remembers
fondly, he decided to accept the assignment of watching this
movie at home – to see whether there is a different
take on the film.
this reviewer is no match for his fellow columnist’s
meticulousness and diligence (you may remember reading a certain
DVD review for a Jack Neo film which compared the original
PG and NC16 versions side by side), he tries his best to spot
the additional scenes added to this DVD release, and see whether
it makes any difference to the original theatrical cut.
story intertwines three lonely urbanites who feel alienated
by the world around them. These three characters each has
his or her own story: A rich but unfulfilled “tai-tai”
(which is amusingly defined as a wealthy lady of pleasure
on the DVD sleeve), an angry young man who wishes to break
out of the norm by choosing to live in an alternate fantasy
world, and an innocent young Indian girl who faces the harsh
realities of life too soon when her parents leave her at a
at 97 minutes, the film is aptly paced with three extra scenes
not included in the version shown in theatres (correct this
reviewer if he is wrong – his failing memory isn’t
doing him any good these days). These scenes shed a little
more light on the character’s backgrounds and their
relationships with other characters. While it does not significantly
impact the plot in any dramatic way, the inclusions does not
jar the originally well made movie in any way either.
why is this reviewer even more impressed with the director
cut of the movie? Because about a year has passed since he
watched the theatrical version, and he still finds the story
which the filmmaker is trying to tell very affecting. The
themes of urban alienation and the constant search for the
elusive contentedly happy state of mind is something that
will haunt us forever, no matter how much we try to submit
to commercialism and escape to our wonderful shopping malls
to buy, buy and buy.
This Code 3 DVD contains a marvelously insightful "Director
& Kym Ng’s Commentary" where you get
to hear some cheerful banter between the director and her
lead actress. You get to hear interesting trivia about the
film’s casting, location scouting and the blink-and-you-will-miss-it
cameo by the director herself. And somehow, we prefer Ng,
who plays the rich “tai-tai” speak in Mandarin.
Elsewhere, there are six "Teasers & Trailers",
a "Photo Gallery" and three "Deleted
Scenes" running at a total of five minutes.
For a local movie, this DVD contains an extraordinarily bountiful
load of special features, which makes it worth purchasing.
Interested collectors - don’t be put off by the cheesy
DVD cover art though .
disc’s visual transfer makes the stylishly HD shot film
look gorgeously captivating, and in true Singapore spirit,
the movie is presented in its original Mandarin, English,
Tamil, some Malay and dialect audio tracks.
Review by John Li