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Ilo Ilo (2013)

Not Rated | | Drama | 29 August 2013 (Singapore)
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In 90s Singapore, the friendship between Filipino nursemaid Teresa and her young charge Jiale makes waves in a family, while the Asian recession hits the region.

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27 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Yann Yann Yeo ...
Hwee Leng
Tian Wen Chen ...
Teck (as Tianwen Chen)
Angeli Bayani ...
Terry
Jia Ler Koh ...
Jiale
Peter Wee ...
Discipline Master
Jo Kukathas ...
School Principal
Naomi Toh ...
English Teacher (Mrs Ong)
Stephanie Kiong ...
Teacher
Jia Min Chantel Teo ...
Teacher
Zhi Fang Xu ...
Teacher
Sea Moi Lee ...
Teacher
James Ng ...
Teacher
Sook Fen Wong ...
Teacher
Siow Phing Tan ...
Teacher
...
Teacher (as Muhd Aizuddin Bin Nasser)
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Storyline

Set in Singapore, Ilo Ilo chronicles the relationship between the Lim family and their newly arrived maid, Teresa. Like many other Filipino women, she has come to this city in search of a better life. Her presence in the family worsens their already strained relationship. Jiale, the young and troublesome son, starts to form a unique bond with Teresa, who soon becomes an unspoken part of the family. This is 1997 and the Asian Financial Crisis is beginning to be felt in the region... Written by anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

29 August 2013 (Singapore)  »

Also Known As:

Ba Ma Bu Zai Jia  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$8,775 (USA) (4 April 2014)

Gross:

$54,071 (USA) (11 July 2014)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Official submission of Singapore to the Oscars 2014 best foreign language film category. See more »

Quotes

Terry: [to Jiale] Why you do that to me, huh? Why you do that to me? I don't care if you like me or not. You don't like, I don't care. But your mum, she employed me. I'm here to do my work properly. I am your maid, but I didn't come here to be bullied.
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Soundtracks

Kahapon at pag-ibig
Written by Lolita Carbon
Performed by Asin
Courtesy of Lolita Carbon
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Nutshell Review: Ilo Ilo
27 September 2013 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

As it turned out, this is Anthony's labour of love, and the tremendous attention to detail was simply amazing, though not perfect (but what is?), with its art direction to immerse the viewer into knowing we're in the mid 90s without the need for an obvious marker until mid way. Electronic devices such as the Tamagochi game which was quite the rage in its time, ubiquitous pagers, and Sony's walkman all serve to remind us of a time where we got by without feeling the need to be online all the time. And from these little gadgets, come the darting of one's eyes to a lot more clues of time, from costuming right down to wide angled shots where I just had to find something out of place, but rarely did (I admit I nodded when a wide shot of a school hall had the correct President and First Lady picture hung up, something which could have been easily overlooked, amongst other things such as the model used for a police car).

But it is economical filmmaking in a sense, yet big in ambition to tell a story that can, and has proved, to resonate with audiences around the world. Most of the scenes take place in family HDB apartment, or the school, and any other outdoor shots were meticulously scouted and could have made the Old Places team proud, especially when we're modernizing our landscapes at a frightening pace. And the cinematography exploits tight spaces in lieu of avoiding getting something out of place into the frame, yet through its technical constraints came an intimate portrait through tight shots and intricate framing.

What I really liked about the film is how effortlessly the narrative flowed, without the director feeling the urge to be verbose about everything, preferring set ups to be resolved naturally at a later stage, with the film taking its time to evolve rather than pushing its pace to a rush, reining in any attempt to be overly ambitious in trying to cover everything, catalyzed from the introduction of a stranger into a family's life. And on top of that, giving each character crafted their strong, personal story arcs whose challenges one can surely feel for since they touch raw nerves from an unforgettable 90s era.

The Singapore Dreaming connection cannot be stronger than with Yeo Yann Yann's presence playing a pregnant mom in a family drama. One of the actresses at the top of her craft plying her trade on both sides of the Causeway, it is needless to say her sheer acting prowess shone through a role that required her to respond to threats, where her character had to witness the erosion of her bond with her son who slowly but surely begin to forge a stronger one with their family maid. And if that's not challenging the actress enough, her role also deals with the albatross of retrenchment starkly happening in the local small and medium enterprise her motherly character works for, and finding belief through self-help materials.

I've never thought much about Chen Tianwen as an actor since his television days, but it's a testament to the director's ability to elicit the best performance possible from his cast, and it's indeed a revelation that this actor could act, if given the right role, and having his ability coaxed right out of him. While the character had to disappear for a bit toward the last act, his Mr Lim stood for how the typical father would under dire circumstances, speaking little, and digging deep from within to weather the storm, picking up any job to tide through tough times. If you, like me before who is unconvinced by Chen Tianwen's acting abilities, you're in for a huge and pleasant surprise.

Fans of Lav Diaz's films would be no stranger to Angeli Bayani, who plays Teresa/Terry the maid, and nailed her role through and through as the dutiful servant with a mind of her own, standing up for herself from the onset when bullied. Leaving her family and young son behind, the character echoes many of those under similar circumstances, having to come to our island to look after someone else's kid instead, while at the same time bearing witness to the secrets each household owns. And rounding up the principle cast members is Koh Jia Ler as the young kid of the Lim family Jiale, a rascal of a kid, spoilt in a sense, and being the bane of Teresa at the start. Ilo Ilo has their story arcs central to everything else happening around them, and the chemistry between these two performers was one of the highlights of the movie, as we journey through their changes in attitudes that gave way to mutual respect, and love. Probably the child actor at the moment, having to co-shoulder the weight of the film on his shoulders as the unlikely antagonist who jump starts situations.

Anthony Chen has thrown the gauntlet down for local filmmakers to raise their own bars in filmmaking, leading the charge of the next generation of filmmakers who have their unique vision and stories to tell. It's rare in our filmmaking community to find storytellers who straddle between art house and commercial films, but Ilo Ilo shows that a combination of both is possible. So while the film continues to make waves overseas, and prestigious, international awards aside, there's nothing but true testament for any filmmaker, than for audiences in the home country to respond to the film in a show of support through a ticket. And it's not blind promotion - Ilo Ilo is the best local film to hit our shores this year, and perhaps in recent years, that it deserves as wide an audience as it can get from Singapore. You'll laugh, cry and will invariably be moved. A definite recommend!


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