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Movie Review: 爸媽不在家 (Ilo Ilo) - Singapore Film Festival, 14 - 17 Jan 2016

>> Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I rarely do movie reviews as my blog focuses more on food. The Ruthless Eater/PerutBesi covers not just food (although primarily food), but anything that comes with adventure & friendship as well :) It's been a "motto" that the blog has been living on for the past erm...9 years or so?

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a movie from the Singapore Film Festival (14 - 17 Jan 2016) at any either GSC 1 Utama or GSC Pavilion. Having live too far from the city centre, 1 Utama was no doubt my pick to watch one of the Singaporean movies featured in the festival. My schedule is somewhat tight these couple of weeks, but I managed to squeeze in some time to watch a family movie (with my family, of course!) on a Saturday evening.

Ilo Ilo (爸媽不在家) was my best option as the timing for other movies that feature Jack Neo's creations, one of our family's favorites, weren't at the times where we could make it :( So our next best options were any other movies that won awards + in English/Mandarin or that were on Saturday evening where we could make it.

This movie, directed by Anthony Chen, that was released in the year 2013 has won quite a number of awards. Among the few are:

  • Yeo Yann Yann, Best Supporting Actress, Asia-Pacific Film Festival 2013
  • Anthony Chen, Camera d’Or, Cannes Film Festival 2013
  • Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best New Director and Best Film, 2013 Golden Horse Awards 
  • Sutherland Prize for the Best First Film, 2013 London Film Festival
The plot is set in a typical Singaporean lifestyle where a Chinese family who lives in the HDB flats has to hire a Filipino domestic helper, Teresa/Terry (Angeli Bayani) to assist them with looking after their son, Jia Le (Koh Jia Ler), who is a troubled delinquent, while they work. The father, Teck (Chen Tian Wen), works as a salesman for a glass company, while the expecting mother, Hwee Leng (Yeo Yann Yann), works as works as a secretary for a shipping company that is undergoing retrenchment.

The movie began with Jia Le & Terry not having the best of relationships with each other as Jia Le deems Terry as an outsider who needs to share a room with him & be with him throughout the day. Almost everyday, Terry will get into trouble thanks to Jia Le's mischief & be bullied by Jia Le as well. Due to his mischief, Hwee Leng, the mother, receives calls frequently, either from the son or the school, where she had to leave the busyness of her stressful office work to meet the school authorities.

As the plot grows, Teck losses his job, but hides the truth from his wife, with only Terry knowing the truth of her master. The poor mother, filled with stress & feeling helpless with her family's condition & her work stress slowly turned to a motivational speaker, thinking that it's her glimmer of hope for a better future. She ended up finding out that the seminars that she signed up for was a scam & she loss money from it. Not only was her husband jobless & slowly penniless (he loss money from buying stocks as well), she too loss more money from what they own.

The movie actually ended with Terry being sent back to the Philippines as the family couldn't afford to have a domestic helper with the arrival of their newborn child. Teck's car was sent for scraping & he started working as a taxi driver. Jia Le, who by then was very attached to Terry was truly upset with Terry's dismissal that he couldn't even bring himself to bid goodbye to her at the airport, but took a scissors to snip off part of her locks for his own keepsake. (It was rather weird, I know)

A story of relationships, of the importance of truth & love in a family & of respect for others, this movie was truly touching & 'real' that warmed the hearts of movie goers. I'm glad that I could treat my family to this relatable movie as my parents haven't been to the movies for years :)

Family movie time!


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