Mdm Chan - Wilson Yip

Mdm Chan is a film about an elderly lady (Mdm Chan) who, while on a tour of Singapore for retirees and senior citizens, befriends Mr and Mrs Wong, whom she constantly speaks to about her supposedly filial son and estranged, disloyal daughter. Sindie covered some background on it here. To read more about Madam Chan herself, you can go to the movie blog as well.

Mdm Chan is a character everyone can relate to, especially people in Singapore. She is the annoying auntie who talks too loudly and too much and doesn't know when she should just go away. The understanding of this stereotype is largely due to the on the nose directing of Yip who was able to make all his characters seem extremely close to home. At some points I even felt sorry for the poor Mr Wong, who had to deal with this batty old lady during his retirement trip. The movie also deals with the idea of how the old is being fazed out, leaving drifters like Mdm Chan in the dust.

It is in Cantonese, which in this case does help in amplifying the authenticity of the film. Had it been in English, I don't think it would have been as honest as it had been portrayed here. The film is largely dialogue driven and even so, it does not bore you as much as irritate you, but in this case it's a good thing. Yip manages to make a character that seems very two dimensional become very vulnerable once you learn the truth about her and that is a difficult thing to do.

However, the movie falls into an extremely predictable realm. After awhile, the audience realizes that something has to be up with this daughter of hers, or else this batty old lady wouldn't drone about it endlessly and it would lead you to the conclusion that the movie has mapped out.

Also, the token characters in the film do very little to enhance the plot as Mdm Chan may very well be talking to a tree the whole time. But logic decides that the movie cannot be about the previous and therefore a commonplace but endearing typically Singaporean couple are in order. Mr and Mrs Wongs' roles were played well too. But one character that seemed to stick out like a sore thumb was that of the tour guide who seemed to be an unnecessary development of a character. Perhaps an integration with that character would have been nice, just to make the film more cohesive.

All in all, the movie was enjoyable for comedy purposes and nostalgia. It is rooted to Singapore well and is easily understandable by anyone who knows the country well enough.

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