Singapore Short Film Awards - One Room Flat by Zhang Jia Hao

I am inclined to label 'One Room Flat' as a study of menopause. This largely talking heads documentary is about the residents of block 124 at Kim Tian place. And apparently they are all old women. Nah. Of course not. I guess the old men just refuse to be interviewed which is expected. On the other hand, the old women and aunties will willingly share endlessly (sometimes repeating points) if you 'rub' them the right way.


The central character is Angie who is originally from Thailand. She sets the scene by describing what she does and the neighbourhood she lives in. Appearing practised in front of the camera, she paints a picture of utopia in block 124. Here, people are all smiles and chatty. There is a great sense of cohesion among the Ah Sohs. Even when the other Ah Sohs are interviewed about their lives, they make references back to Angie the Angel. 

But before things seem too annoyingly blissful in the world Angie painted, life in 124 has its dark sides as well, like the segment on the 82 yr-old spinster. Pardon my cynicism but these scenes seem more real to me, at least on screen. Another distinct moment (but a good breakaway) was when Angie shared about the rampancy of suicides on a particular side of the flat, with a look of 'Mai Phen Rai' (never mind in Thai) on her face and the same old smile. And for the first time, the camera cuts to someone of the other gender, an Ah Pek. This drews a few well-deserved laughs. 

So in conclusion, life in Block 124 is a mixture of a kampung spirit, women at peace with themselves, occasional free food and the occasional suicide. Like the women, the film rests in a sort of comfort zone. We hear the things they prefer to say and not what we are itching to find out. Perhaps Angie was rightfully chosen as the spokesperson as she personified that comfort zone. Can you imagine if we got CNN to probe her further on those suicides?

Share:

1 cent worth