5th Singapore Short Cuts - Love Through The Ages by Wendy Chee

I never want to work with cockroaches! I think Wendy must feel the same way. `Love Through The Ages’ opened with a series of credit shots consisting of a fidgeting plastic cockroach crated from stop-motion photography. I must imagine the ideal shot would be to have a real one, because that’s how the story begins. An old lady petrified by the sight of a cockroach bumbling around in the kitchen walks out to ask her husband to kill it. But the husband did absolutely nothing but continue sitting with his trotter-like legs perched on the coffee table and watch TV. She starts the inevitable – nagging at her husband to no effect and this adds to her annoyance.

The delivery of the old woman was robotic, almost dead-pan unintentionally, reflective of her being a non-actress. But I found it made it funnier because it drew attention to her act of nagging rather than the character. What tickled me more was when the story went back in time. In a 60s tinged setting of an old school, a fresh, succulent faced young girl in her virginal-white uniform meets an glowing, athletic-looking young man in shorts too short for his adult-like limbs. Retrieving a piece of stationery outside the classroom, she bumped into him and both freeze their movements for a text to be flashed, that says `This is was how they met’. Unabashedly corny, I was soon getting the drift of the humour. In the flashback, the old lady’s voice was still the voice of narration colouring every moment with her rose-tinted point of view. I found this juxtaposition of her croaky voice and the puppy-love visuals quite effective and humourous.

While the old man does not say much in the present day scenes, the young man in the flashback is a bag of lofty and empty promises. In front of a bungalow, he promised to buy her a big house, car, take her around the world and taste the finest cuisine. Probably the funniest punchline in the string of contrasts used was when she griped that instead of abalone, she gets salted fish (play on words in Hokkien). And the editing also reflected a lot of good comic timing, switching between the rosy younger days and the crusty present in tandem with the lines and punchlines.

Oddball and perhaps a little patchy in its style, the film delivers quite a fair amount of the unexpected. At the very worst, it was sometimes tacky, but the at its best, it was unabashed. In an ending that resembles a short film from last year’s short cuts (by Ryan something… about this mother who keeps nagging at her son in the kitchen), the husband walks into his wife in the room seemingly by accident and in its moment of physical brushing did something very instinctive, though I must a say little cringe-worthy for his age. My hair would stand if I saw my parents doing that!
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