7th Singapore Short Cuts - 'One Day in June' by Daniel Hui

Straddling between a personal attempt to experiment with the fine lines between reality and film and a tribute to Andrei Tarkovsky (whether intentional or not), Daniel Hui takes one step further in questioning the cinematic art form in his films. 'One Day in June' follows the semi-conscious journey of a female character trying to re-acquaint herself with her immediate and original surroundings. She has just returned from a trip (apparently a long one) in Europe and is experiencing some kind of a mental dislocation from her old premises.

Vel Ng, who plays the character, listlessly ambles around her house and neighbourhood, like a zombie. From the opening clue of her trying to identify a stranger whom she had a missed connection with, we know she is searching for an answer. But also not, given her nonchalance about it. If none of it makes sense, perhaps the Q & A after offered a clue - the film explores Vel, the real person behind the character, touching and feeling her real origins again, hearing the ambience of her flat, soaking in the whizzing action of the roadside traffic and even remembering where her mum put the coffee powder.
Rather than engage you, the film is like a subliminal drone of the radio you hear when your tuner is in between the right frequencies. With its long shots, discrete soundtrack and deliberately prolonged moments of silence, it is pitched to work on your sub-conscious mind. However, the emptiness of the character and the lack of any establishment makes it hard to appreciate the film beyond just being structurally and conceptually beautiful. It is a pity because it is very confident in its cinematographic style. But 'One Day in June' is not futile in its attempt to reinvent something. Drawing a parallel with that red ball that drifted into a 'new' scene, the film has a niche in being able to make you pay attention to visual patterns and cinematic form, dissected from the heaviness of a typical narrative.

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