Genre: Drama Director: Boo Junfeng Cast: Joshua Tan, Elena Chia, Bobbi Chen, Ng Jing Jing, Samuel Chong RunTime: 1 hr 32 mins Released By: GV Rating: NC-16 (Mature Theme & Sexual Scene) Official Website:http://www.sandcastlemovie.com
Just prior to 18-year-old En’s mandatory enlistment into the Singaporean army, a series
of events and disclosures threatens to alter his world view forever. The taste of his first
romance, the death of his grandfather, his grandmother’s worsening Alzheimer’s disease,
his schoolteacher mother’s affair with an uptight military commander, and En’s newfound
awareness of his late father’s student activist past all contribute to his decision to
reevaluate the pieces of his life before they are erased by the tides of time.
A Singapore movie being screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival? It was not too long ago that the likelihood of this happening would be zero to none. However, our Singaporean directors have been gaining a respectable reputation internationally and having had Eric Khoo pave the way, it is now time for a new director to join the ranks – Boo Junfeng.
Screened during the Critics’ Week in the 2010 edition of the Cannes Film Festival, Sandcastle shows a lot of promise, especially with it being Boo Junfeng’s maiden feature length film. At the heart of it all, Sandcastle is a family drama in which the protagonist En’s (Joshua Tan) relationships with his mother and grandparents are explored. As his room is being renovated and his mother (Elena Chia) going away with her boyfriend (Samuel Chong), he moves in with his grandparents for two weeks. It is at his grandparents’ place that En soon learns more about his late father (Andrew Seow) after discovering his grandfather’s film negatives from back in the day.
There are two main stories which intertwine En’s life. The first being having to care for his grandmother who has Alzheimer’s after an unexpected incident happens. Later, his relationship with his mother is further strained when he expresses how he does not agree with her choice of a potential new partner and when his selfish actions causes his grandmother to wander out of the house by herself. In this thread, filial piety is at the forefront of things and what is more moving is Junfeng’s ability to depict the different generations’ treatment of the teenage En with much subtlety.
As En is also on the brink of enlisting into National Service, he is also on the brink of becoming a man. Without a father, En is able to get by with his life though his relationship with his mother is not always a bed of roses. He also discovers a sexual awakening when he hooks up with his neighbour, a China PR, played by the gorgeous Bobbi Chen.
If there is one observation though it would be that Singapore made movies can be loosely categorized into two different groups. The first being the slapstick laden, over-the-top camp affairs which are the box-office generating ones and the second, being slow moving, sometimes angsty with not a lot of dialogue which are fantastic affairs which rarely generate a lot of box-office heat yet able to attract international recognition. While it is a pity that movies in the latter group do not make as much money but this reviewer is glad that such movies are being made. And I think one can easily place Sandcastle in this group considering that is showing in one cinema, with only one print!
Sandcastle is a gorgeous cinematic experience what with its high production value and its ability to draw catharsis from its audience. It is not the most perfect of debuts but the film hits a lot of right notes. Sandcastle is definitely one of the better movies in our Singapore film canon.
(Sandcastle is a Singapore-made movie which will last the tides of time)