Director: Glen Goei
Cast: Adrian Pang, Lim Kay Siu, Emma Yong,
Tan Kheng Hua, Neo Swee Lin, Sebastian Tan, Pamela Oei, Huzir
Sulaiman, Patrick Teoh, Claire Wong, Louisa Chong, Denise Chan,
Ben Tan, Steve Yap, Chermaine Ang, Glen Goei
RunTime: 1 hr 47 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: NC-16 (Some Nudity)
Official Website: http://www.thebluemansion.com/
Opening Day: 22 October 2009
BLUE MANSION is a quirky murder mystery about a wealthy tycoon
who dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances. He returns
as a ghost to try to uncover the secret of his death. Two
eager detectives investigate the death chasing all leads and
suspects including the dead man's three children. The ghost
witnesses his own funeral wake, attended by jealous relatives
and business competitors as well as the police investigation
that unveils hidden family secrets.
Ah, the powers of censorship are upon
us again. In the spotlight this time round is local director
Glen Goei and his second feature film. Research tells us that
a sex scene was cut, and a nude scene was pixilated to ensure
its NC 16 rating in theatres. Of course, this review isn’t
about the politics behind censorship policies, it’s
about a local filmmaker making his second feature film, and
how it fares since it has been more than 10 years after he
made his rollicking debut Forever Fever (1998).
Goei returns with a murder mystery which
plays out like a Cluedo game. We don’t know who the
killer is. We don’t know what the weapon is. The only
thing we know, there is a dead man in the study. And this
dead man isn’t your average old man. He is Wee Bak Chuan,
a patriarch figure who helms a lucrative business in selling
pineapple tarts. Yes, you read it correctly: Pineapple tarts.
This says a lot about the quirkiness of Ken
Kwek’s script which tells the story of a filthy rich
Asian tycoon who is suddenly found dead in his own study.
He returns as a ghost to try to uncover the secret of his
death with the help of his family and the police. His own
children and their spouses become natural suspects for his
death, and does a terrible secret await? You bet.
Headlined by the who’s who of the theatre
scene, you can expect this to be one talky affair. Right from
the moment the 107 minute film begins, you hear the characters
spout their dialogue. While there is hardly any moments for
breathers, you are engrossed in their superb acting to care.
These are stage actors after all, and you can only imagine
how they will seize every second of their screen time to make
their presence felt. Be it Adrian Pang’s perpetually
angry character, Tan Kheng Hua’s unhappy wife figure,
Lim Kay Siu’s repressed husband with a secret, Neo Swee
Lin’s depressed single woman character, Patrick Teoh’s
naturally amusing personification of a ghost or Emma Yong’s
stunning figure (hint: there is some eye candy for the guys
in this character), each and every cast member seems to be
telling you: “Look at me act!”
This is not necessary a bad thing though,
because it is indeed rare for a project to bring together
these acting veterans. Watch out also for scene stealing performances
by Pamela Oei, Sebastian Tan, Chermaine Ang, Wendy Kweh and
a cameo by the director himself.
The art direction deserves credit, simply
with the overpowering presence of the titular blue mansion.
Shot at the renowned Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Penang, Malaysia,
the distinctive indigo blue outer wall of the building makes
it a perfect set for this murder mystery. Goei’s sure
handed direction is evident in the film too, seeing how the
competent cast effortlessly brings the story to a higher level
of engagement. The only jarring thing is the awkward and inconsistent
accent amongst the actors, but as if we haven’t gotten
used to it in local productions already?
the ending doesn’t come as an innovative surprise, you
get the message the filmmakers are trying to convey. It may
not be one of the best local movies to date, but it did Singapore
proud by opening the “Window on Asian Cinema”
at the 14th Pusan International Film Festival this year. That,
besides the death of Wee Bak Chuan, is definitely something
to shout about.
(Watch this for the sheer presence of the blue mansion,
and some powerhouse acting from the theatre veterans)
Review by John Li