First Takes - 'Our Last Day' by Kenny Tan

If this was a film done by a Japanese filmmaker (supposedly young), it would be a bland TV fare. If it was done by a Singaporean, it would be utterly pretentious. This film was actually made as a brave attempt by a Singaporean filmmaker write and direct something totally foreign. So this makes it an incredibly impeccable attempt. Kenny Tan enjoyed some fame with Lorong 27, now apparently a local short film classic, often screened at some retrospectives. And he 's also gone on to make some rather sleek and polished looking shorts and music videos. So the immaculate look of this film is of no surprise. Graded with candy colours, this is a feel-good teeny-bopper piece that looks good in your home if you play it on the screen and sit beside a few Hello Kitty, Totoro and Pikachu soft toys. 17 year-old Midori (isn't that the name of a cartoon character?) tries to settle down in Singapore, a place new to her. A chatty Reiko rides her along and enters her life, making her assimilation into life here more bearable. They play, eat, take cutesy photos, paint and get emo together. A focal point of the relationship also involves an abandoned hangar where they err.... 'hang-out'.
Thanks to the reverse story-telling structure, their eventual separation is anticipated. While the whimsical images and floaty music add to the sadness of the separation, it was actually quite hard to find something poignant enough abot it. Perhaps the fact that Reiko eventually injured her leg back in Japan was meant to be a point of poignancy, but the severity of it was not established well. It made amuch of Midori's memories feel somewhat strenuous. Honestly, Midori was as bland as a paper cut-out, but Reiko gave life to much of the story with her more varied states of behaviour and existence. Her injury was a interesting pivot in the story though not fully explored. At the end of it all, if we go back to Kenny's intention of recreating a genre, it can best be descrived as exquisite! As exquisite as the wriggling feet shots - showcasing the cutesy knee-length socks that female Japanese students wear) - dotted throughout the film.
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