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S11 (Singapore)


  Publicity Stills of "S11"
(Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films)

Winner of The Singapore Screenplay Awards 2001
Official Selection at Shanghai International Film Festival 2006

Dark Comedy
Director: Gilbert Chan, Joshua Chiang
Starring: Timothy Nga, Cindy Teo, Kevin Murphy, Steven Yun
RunTime: -
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language)

Opening Day: 3 August 2006 (The Picturehouse)


Terence is a lonely clerk resigned to his dead-end job at a jewel store. Ben is a pushover who becomes a hero only in his fantasies. Michelle sells pirated pornographic videodisks after school to pay for her brother's education. They are complete strangers with nothing in common except for their hard luck and unfulfilled desires. Then, a series of events in one day leads them to cross paths with one another and change each other's lives forever.

In three interwoven tales, S11 tells of how each character experiences, and through their actions and the machinations of fate, change each other's lives in ways none of them could ever imagine. Throw in a desperate old robber, two foul-mouthed punks, and a mysterious gangster called Brother Long, and you have a hilarious comedy about how each persona's action, no matter how small, can have life-altering consequences.

Movie Review:

Welcome to the worst day of the lives of a loner, a loser, and a lolita-like babe.

Three individual, personal and parallel stories combined into one narrative, anchored in a petrol kiosk setting where the lead characters converge in a night. It's always interesting though challenging to weave and tell a story using a non-linear narrative, and local directors Gilbert Chan and Joshua Chiang managed to accomplish that with seeming ease.

And having the lead characters such as the Loner, Loser and the "Love Interest", provided different avenues for local audiences to identify with. The way Terence (Timothy Nga) gets stuck in a cyclic mundane job, and had having screwed up big time by losing his company's takings for the day, of how Ben (Kevin Murphy) got fired from work, suffers under a domineering mother, and decidedly determined to reinvent his life (for the better or worse depending on your point of view), and Michelle (Cindy Teo) rebelling against establishment with her china doll outfit and red wig, coming from a dysfunctional home, and owing loansharks thousands of dollars for unwittingly being a guarantor.

However, it was natural that the characters were not given equal screen time, and herein the pace might seem a little uneven. Scenes involving Terence seemed primarily to set the stage for the primary plot device - a bag containing a large undefined sum of money, which crosses hands multiple times throughout the story. While Terence's character largely remained silent, Michelle's scenes were in contrast, filled with plenty of dialogue, but most seemed to drag the movie’s pace, and having too much focus having her predicament on repeat. Also, being the last segment, an audience might experience too strong a sense of deja-vu when her act comes into the spotlight.

The strongest storyline of the three would belong to the Ben character. Infused with plenty of comedy, be it plain wit, fantasy sequences or sight gags, the character had ample opportunity to develop and grow, and had it easy being the popular character amongst the group, despite his "loser" tag. There's a running gag in his seemingly feminine exterior with a Doraemon pink t-shirt, and his dreams of having saved the day like a reel gangster who shares the same name as himself - Chen Hao Nan, in the Hong Kong Young and Dangerous franchise.

There are several familiar elements and scenes in this movie that invokes memories of certain cult favourite films.The tapestry of the money woes which interlaced with gangster's threats and multi sub-plots reminisce of the intricate planning done on Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrel. Michelle's fashion and quest brought back memories of Run Lola Run and even the bike riding scenes in S11 had a certain Wong Kar Wai's Fallen Angel and Kevin Tong's Eating Air feel to it.

S11 was effective in bringing back those memories and meshing it up with imagination and expertise, keeping the audience wondering what going to happen and what had happened before. However it could have work better if some supporting characters were given less background details and perhaps focus more on the romantic dilemma better the loser and the babe.

S11 is not exactly the best films that Singapore have to offer in recent years but it does has it's unique indie flavour that worth checking out. Looking back at how Eric Khoo progressed with each new film, it will be exciting to see what Joshua Chiang and Gilbert Chan have to offer in the future.

Movie Rating:

(S11 stands out amongst the local offerings in having interwoven three points of views into one non-linear narrative, infused with huge doses of black comedy)

Review by Stefan Shih and Richard Lim Jr

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