Review - 'Tadpoles' by Ivan Tan (NTU Filament Showcase)


The film Tadpoles places the power of family and of nature to the test. Which may be stronger?

The film wishes to explore the understanding of family relationships within everyday urban spaces such as the humble HDB flat. It also serves as a gentle reminder that the little actions that we do may go a long way in building or breaking relationships.

Within such small living spaces, Tadpoles examines the hidden fractures of two families and explores how much it would take for the members to abandon their various differences and come together as one.

With the film showcasing the strains in family relations against the backdrop of an overwhelming downpour, filmmaker Ivan Tan gives the audience an insight into everyday lives in a voyeuristic fashion. It is an intimate portrayal of the fragility of human relationships and the little moments that pass us by in life.



Driven by vivid imagery, the film draws the audience into their world with great focus on the props used and the objects that bring the space alive within the film. The audience would also be able to capture glimpses into the life of a young couple on the verge of a divorce as well as a young boy with his estranged parents. The audience would find themselves being able to relate to the more than familiar situations these families face.

Simplicity is key in this film, with the little surprises discovered along the way by the families ordinary but not dramatic. Nevertheless, the plot is able to carry the story through and did not remain stagnant even though there were slower moments.

Together with actors that portray their raw emotions onto camera, the simple storytelling comes to life despite a lack of dialogue and verbal answers given to the audience. The audience would be able to connect with the various close-up shots that showcase sadness, confusion and loss.

By the end of the film, Tadpoles would leave you with many open-ended questions but little answers. Or maybe, you can take a few visual hints such as a well-preserved cigarette box or stained wedding photographs to make a good guess of your own.  

Review by Dawn Teo


Dawn has dabbled in the arts since young and doing theatre since she was 14 and she has been a part of more than ten productions locally. Just completing an editorial internship with Youth.SG, Dawn hopes to write more to hone her skills in expressing herself through words. 

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