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CAGES (Singapore)
  Publicity Stills of "Cages"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Drama
Director: Graham Streeter
Cast: Makoto Iwamatsu, Zelda Rubinstein, Tan Kheng Hua, Bobby Tonelli, Dickson Tan, Asran
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://cagesmovie.com/

Opening Day: 22 March 2007

Synopsis :

Set in the forgotten suburbs of modern Singapore, Ali's attempt to escape repeated bad relationships ironically puts her before the man she resents most – her father, TAN. But, the truth is not always easy to face when her father reveals a dark secret of 20 years past; a past that may cost a lifetime of relationship.

Movie Review:

Not long after Max Makowski’s One Last Dance, here we have another film shot entirely on our sunny island. This time, we ditch the gritty slick look visualized by the Brazilian director and go gaga over the forgotten suburbs uncovered by American filmmaker Graham Streeter in cosmopolitan Singapore.

And what a good job he has done, bringing us on a journey around some of the most familiar and nostalgically beautiful places. Thanks to the wonderful cinematography by Mark Lapwood, familiar locations like Ang Mo Kio, Tiong Bahru and Club Street never looked better on the big screen.

So when the plot somehow stifles in its 90-minute runtime, you’d hopefully already be enchanted by the film’s lush images.

Not that the storyline does not have its merit though, because it does attempt to tell a family tale that resonates with hope and love. Tan Kheng Hua plays a troubled woman who moves into her father’s house with her visually-impaired son (a very loveable Dickson Tan).

The problem is, the old man abandoned his family when the poor girl was six years old.

The premise does make for great drama – and it does. You empathize with Tan’s struggles to live a proper life. You think the poor son deserves much better than this. You pity the old grandfather who seems to have a dark secret to tell. But there is also an awkward sense of unfulfilled engagement when the film changes gear and begins unraveling a truth that ultimately seems inconsequential.

That one flaw aside, the show clearly belongs to local stage and television actress Tan. Her portrayal of the distressed middle-aged woman is a wonderful showcase of the veteran actress’ talents. Her every line and gesture is so full of emotions; you’d feel that she is directly interacting with you.

Her on-screen son is played by 8-year-old first-time blind actor Tan, who was discovered by the filmmakers when they did their on-site research at the Singapore School for the Visually Impaired. It is almost impossible not to fall in love with his earnest performance.

To complement the young actor is Mako Iwamatsu, who plays the grandfather role. It is especially poignant to watch his portrayal of the noble figure because the Oscar-nominated actor (The Sand Pebbles, 1966) passed away from esophageal cancer in July last year.

Ultimately a human drama, this film has the universal power to touch audiences everywhere, including viewers at the Pusan International Film Festival and Prague Film-Asia Film Festival in 2005.

So all you need to do is to reach into your soul, and find that part of you to feel the complexities that is called life.

Movie Rating:

(The Singapore you are familiar with is captured superbly on lens in this story of faith, hope and courage)

Review by John Li


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