Review: Echoing Love

Filmmakers must be thankful for the fact that love is a many splendoured thing, or there may just be a shortage of movies to produce. Just think about it - how many of the shows you’ve caught in your lifetime is about that thing called love? This reviewer, for one, is a sucker for all things lovey dovey. He shudders to picture a world without love. And that is why, when this columnist heard about this local production featuring six short films revolving around the theme of love, he had high hopes for it.

Turned out that his expectations were a little too high.

An initiative spearheaded by local artiste Edmund Chen (you may remember him as Chun-Li’s father in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, or more prominently, as the resident good looker in countless local TV dramas), Mission Easy transforms 30 normal Singaporeans (yes, these fellow countrymen are the ones you and I see on the streets every other day) into first-time filmmakers. Help came in the form of local personalities like Xiang Yun, Vincent Ng and Ericia Lee, who took on the roles of consultant directors on set. The result is a 90-minute omnibus aptly titled “Echoing Love”.

Films like “Paris Je T’aime” (2006) and “New York, I Love You” (2009) come to mind, and it is not surprising that there are segments here which worked, and some which didn’t. Adding some spice to the production are filler scenes “hosted” by recognised local celebrities who dish some wise words about love. The viewing experience isn’t what you’d call spectacular, but there are occasional affecting moments worth commending.

The standout piece is the second segment which tells the story of a grandmother who enjoys her first day of retirement taking care of her two grandchildren. Starring the veteran Kwan Sek Mui and project director Chen’s own children, this is a loveable piece about the simplicities of love.

Another piece which will have you smiling is the last short of the series. The fresh-faced Tomato Lee and Edwin Goh take on the roles of two lovers separated by time and space. Without giving away too much, product placement in the form of geomancy is smartly used in this segment.

The production values for all the shorts are top notch, but they are unfortunately marred by the sometimes amateurish acting and even more unfortunately, the forced attempt to tell a love story.

There is a tale about an old gentleman who falls for a young masseur, which feels tiresome despite fine acting by Gerald Chew and Jessica Tan. Then there is a story about a heartbroken girl who falls for a burly fitness instructor at a resort which failed to evoke any emotions.

What’s love without some melodrama and tragedy? There is a short which explores the relationship between a girl and a married man, and another which tries its hand at tackling the issue of love between an older woman and a younger man. Ericia Lee and Amy Cheng may have headlined these two segments with commendable performances, but they do not help to salvage the dreariness.

A project like this may work better on TV, but it is still a praiseworthy effort by industry players to encourage filmmaking and promote the local scene. There’s nothing like some good ol’ fashioned practice to improve on your next attempt, right?

Check out snippets of three of the shorts here:

Reviewed by John Li at the 24th Singapore International Film Festival

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