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Theresa Poh Lin Chan,
Chiew Sung Ching,
Goofy middle-aged Ah Gu is not happy with with his money-obsessed bride Lily, who only wants to go out and have fun. At the same house, young Meng is left to look after his siblings, sister Trixie and baby brother Tee. He acts like an old man, trying to teach them discipline, and subsequently has problems with Trixie's boyfriend. Written by
12 Storeys is Singapore's finest cinematic moment yet. A film that digs deeply into the Singaporean psyche and dares to be boldly political in the most subtlest way. And that ultimately, is the crowning achievement of 12 Storeys. Yes, we can talk about Koh Boon Pin's superlative performance as the politically correct Ming or director Eric Khoo's superb handling of three interwoven plotlines or the hilarious one-liners that punctuate the movie's realistic dialogue ( in English, Singlish, Hokkien, Mandarin, Malay, Cantonese-whew! ) - these are indicative of the quality of the movie but I daresay that it is the pervading undercurrent of socio-political commentary garbed in domestic clothes that underscores the magnificence of 12 Storeys as a truly relevant Singaporean film. We have the plight of our most recent immigrants - the China brides - whom we have collectively denounced as materialistic and as "gold-diggers" without realising that three other fingers are always pointing back at us. We have the cumulative effect of three decades of social engineering campaigns that has left us in confused repression and cold-hearted smugness about the things valued in life. We have the alienating debilitation of the "have-nots" left on the scrapheap of meritocracy to fend for themselves in isolation and loneliness. Heavy themes indeed but not a single time does 12 Storeys bang you on the head but instead gets the message through in day-to-day experiences, language and humour. And that's the beauty of this compelling movie - it can be fully appreciated at virtually countless levels. As straightforward family drama or a light-hearted spoof of Singaporean habits and mores or socio-political commentary, 12 Storeys scores every time. To reveal more in terms of storyline and motivations would definitely detract from the overall enjoyment of this event. Suffice to say that Eric Khoo has indeed matured from the gritty art-house noir of Mee Pok Man to graduate into the major leagues with a film that is at once accessible and defiantly artistic. Encore, maestro !!!
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