First Takes - 'Violin & Tea' by Derek Yee

2 girls cross paths at a tea cafe. One stands behind the counter and tries to share her well-cultivated passion for tea while the other, a busker-violinist, is simply looking for solace in a cup. One bumbles around in her job with a sunny air of self-initiated optimism while the other is dragging her feet everywhere buried in some kind of inexplicable sorrow. No matter how the former tries to introduce the latter to new tea infusions, the latter lackadaisically settles for the same tea she always has.

The cafe scenes by themselves are a little banal and seem to have a predictable 'short-film' set up - cafe, characters meet, beverage (could be coffee!). However, the film rewarded my watching with deeper expositions along the way. In a hospital ward, the violinist sits at the side of her ailing and unconscious father with her mind in desperate prayer. Though cliche, there is something very sweet about the simplicity of the scene. And without trying too hard, it explains a lot of her reclusion throughout the film.

While the cafe girl's 'bumbling' often jarred the restrained dramatisation of the film, her twist in circumstances provided an interesting surprise. After an episode in tea, she is forced back to her old job in an advertising - a change that carries an air of ambiguity. Albeit the expositional flashback broke the flow of the story, it helped give the character some much-needed depth. And like life, there is never a firm conclusion. Dressed in her Shenton Way heels, she steps into a cab looking a few years older than her tea-girl self. We are not entirely sure if she is on her way to Shenton Way but she is certainly awakened to something new and a little grey.

A recipirent of the Media Education Scheme Scholarship by Media Development Authority Singapoire (MDA), Derek was a producer and copywriter with a local production house before embarking on his dream to make films. He has made numerous short films to date.

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