STOP10 Jun 2017: 'Freeze' by Nelicia Low

Freeze by Nelicia Low, which will be screened as part of the SGIFF New Waves programme in June, is an unforgettable glimpse into the human need for connection and the terrible sense of isolation within a marriage. Hui (Emma Hung) longs for her husband to show her the love and affection she desires, but he is constantly traveling for work and she suspects he is having extramarital affairs. Her suspicions and questioning of his love for her leaves him irritated and her even more insecure. Instead, she turns to her autistic brother for the love and comfort she desires, which he supplies guilelessly. 

Hui’s pale, pinched-in face and sunken eyes carry the film, as her expressive face lights up when her husband takes her on a date and crumples with each dismissive word. Her eagerness towards him is as a flower to the sun, except the sun only rises once every few weeks for her. Hui’s autistic brother (Zi-Heng Lin) responds, like an automaton, with “yes” to every question. He is an essential, if mostly mute, part of the drama as he provides the push-pull tension between the married couple. Hui’s all-encompassing need for love, and for confirmation of that love (“Do you love me? Only me?”) is like a scrape on her marriage: even when it heals, she peels it again and again. But when she turns those questions to her brother, he is a receptacle for her needs, providing her with the affirmation she craves. 

Dialogue in the film is sparse and cutting, getting right to the heart of the matter and setting a lengthier context than just the span of the film. Through repeating certain scenes and locations, the ending of Freeze effectively feels like the culmination of a series of repeating events over a few years, rather than two days (in the timeline of the film). It makes the ending less shocking and more inevitable. 

Freeze has a distinct blue tint through most of its scenes; a nod to its title, and symbolic of the distant and cold treatment of Hui’s husband towards her and vice versa. The blues are contrasted against the red of Hui and her brother’s uniforms at the supermart where they work. In one scene where Hui’s husband catches her sleeping with her brother, the conflict between “blue” and “red” comes to the fore and splits the screen evenly in two. 

This film will leave you thinking about it long after it ends, as it plunges into an unusual love triangle and reveals the dredges normally hidden by a facade. It asks if there is a Hui in every one of us, yearning for affection, and what we would do when carved hollow and starved of it. 

Screening Details:
28 June, Wed, 8pm, *SCAPE Gallery (Level 5)
Free seating, pre-registration needed via Peatix
Register here.

Written by Jacqueline Lee

For the full list of June 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.
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