The Olive Depression documents the weeks before a teenage boy enters military service He is determined not to mentally accept what is required of him by law. He opts to prepare himself by ... See full summary »
The Olive Depression documents the weeks before a teenage boy enters military service He is determined not to mentally accept what is required of him by law. He opts to prepare himself by maintaining his melancholy about something against what it means to be human. However, seeing the depression of his best friend who enters the army before him and the worry of his parents lead him to question his principles. As he strives not to succumb to the government's world view, he finds it increasingly difficult to be contented and sad at the same time. Written by
Shot on location in Singapore in 2006 after his graduation from the University of Southern California's distinguished film school, Joshua's film has the philosophical provocation and stylized intellectual dialog of a New Wave film by Godard, the serene, gentle quality of Asian luminaries like Edward Yang and Kim Ki-Duk, and the visual beauty of an Edward Hopper painting. It reflects a highly opinionated side of him, as well as the thoughtful philosopher and observant poet within. The film is a remarkable cinematic achievement, and all the more impressive considering the limited resources and budget he had to work with. Joshua assembled a local Singaporean film crew who worked for free and, like one of his cinematic heroes Bruno Dumont, he cast non-professional, native Singaporeans and brought out extraordinarily nuanced performances from them. Working with his regular cinematographer and fellow USC film graduate Lawson Deming, his distinct composition and color schemes are also highly pronounced in the film's striking visual. All things considered, the technical quality of the film and its overall accomplishment rival that of any studio- financed feature. The story of the Olive Depression centers on a predicament facing most young Asian males in the modern era. It chronicles the weeks leading up to a Singaporean boy's entrance into the country's mandatory military service. The protagonist Johnny is a precocious teenage Christian who wrestles with his country's identity and the sense of existential confusion facing his generation of young Singaporeans. Questioning the purpose of military service and the demand of our civilized society, Johnny has decided to maintain his melancholy in order to rebel against the perceived injustice and dehumanization that his country has perpetuated in the name of order and progress. During this very volatile period in his life, Johnny has to learn to balance the competing demands of family, relationship, and the diverse opinions of his friends regarding life and his refusal to conform. Slowly and in its subtle way, the Olive Depression paints a portrait of Singapore and confronts the question of what it means to be a Singaporean in this particular moment in time. Joshua based the story largely on his personal experience and reflection, and the film's authenticity is striking.
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