Director: Kelvin Tong
Starring: Erica Lee, Evelyn Tan, Lin Yi Lun,
Tracy Tan, Amanda Ling
RunTime: 1 hr 36 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: NC16 (Scenes of Intimacy)
Day: 25 May 2006
theatre usher looks for love and finds it in a library book.
A cop chases a killer only to wind up at the end of her own
gun. A pulp-romance writer confuses fact with fiction and
learns that true love comes only after a great loss. The stories
that flows from this ebb of desire to find true love leads
us various stories that will be amalgam of time, space, consequences
and fact and fiction often are not easily identifiable.
a fantastic induction with the offbeat feature Eating Air,
local filmmaker and former movie critic, Kelvin Tong had followed
up with the less than satisfying but extremely successful
commercial horror film in The Maid. He’s now followed
up on his cinematic repertoire with Love Story, a Focus Films
venture that recently earned him a Best Director nod at this
year’s Singapore International Film Festival.
incredibly surrealistic tableau of the blurring lines of reality
and fiction, Allen Lin plays a pulp romance author struggling
to envision his next novel’s heartbreaking romance story
and increasingly resorts to meeting women at the local public
library he visits in order to reap inspiration. Playing out
episodically, the four women (Tracy Tan, Evelyn Tan, Erica
Lee and Amanda Ling) are introduced as each of his book’s
love interest with each ending up in a tragic way in his fiction
and on screen. Needless to say, after each novel he moves
on to the next woman in search of his muse, all the while
trapped and lost in his own unspoken narrative.
of time, choices and characters are constantly weaved together
with sombrely narrated catechisms to illustrate the writer’s
ambivalence and desperation in his actions. Tong’s use
of darkness in the visual palette and the often dream-like
instances in his settings is naturally reminiscent of Federico
women are largely one-dimensional and larger than life, never
layered and only serve to propel Allen Lin’s character
into a spiral of contemplations and rescind into his private
narcissistic thoughts of his next great romance. He becomes
enchanted with these women through the various attractions
he feels when he first meets them.
of these women, played by Tracy Tan, is a taciturn theatre
usher who covers her mouth with a black cloth while reciting
lines from a book that is apparently banned. The protagonist
finds her intriguing and mysterious as he romances her, winding
down his novel akin to a Greek tragedy along the lines of
Orpheus and Eurydice. It is even rounded off with the Mighty
Aphrodite-esque throwback of cutting in between scenes with
performed recitals from the mythos on a stage.
Erica Lee’s out-of-place coquettish cop character right
after his initial tryst. Her tactless statements and callous
remarks about him are humourous but serve to mask her growing
affection for him. He is drawn to her assertiveness and control
but soon finds himself in the arms of Evelyn Tan’s portrayal
of the librarian. He then bores of their mundane romance after
his final book and through unlikely circumstances, finds himself
on the trail of a dangerous and lively Goth stage performer
played by Amanda Ling keyboardist for local band, Electrico.
Heng, who played the lead in Tong’s introductory Eating
Air, steals most of the scenes that he finds himself in with
his strangely effective screen presence as an unsettling janitorial
worker who becomes acquainted with the writer and literature.
of the actors’ performances carry out the angst-laden
scenes with aplomb. The art direction and musical score had
weighty aspirations, and found themselves largely responsible
for the successful entree of an extremely difficult narrative.
The opening act is delicately layered with contrasting light
patterns and a riveting orchestral score.
Tong’s own lofty ambitions in his script, punches a
large dent in this curious and often erratic film. His insistence
and overuse of highly derivative, metaphysical and experimental
story-telling techniques leave much to be accomplished. The
plot meanders too much midway and it starts to become a chore
just to keep up with the writer’s own extremities in
dealing with the abstract boundaries of fact and fiction.
It becomes arrogant in its self-consciousness and is devoid
of a personality.
a love story and not quite the trip it was hoping to be, the
film becomes too heavy-handed halfway through, after lines
of existential self-musings of love and art. However, Kelvin
Tong’s assertion of the demented and lonely world of
writers is commendable and is a steady takeoff from his largely
commercial projects. It’s a strong inclusion of an arthouse
film for Singapore, but it might not find the audience it
(A brave and exciting new direction for local cinema, but
becomes too much of an effort even for the most willing)
by Justin Deimen