Sunday, August 04, 2013

That Girl in Pinafore - 我的朋友,我的同学,我爱过的一切 Review

Should you follow your heart or your head? That Girl in Pinafore is a coming-of-age tale set in 1993, Singapore, about dreams, friendships, and first loves. The story follows four teenagers' efforts to bring business back to a struggling folk music pub, and the blossoming love between Jiaming and May, both fans of Singaporean folk music.

1992 - Singapore is on the verge of electing its first President, and chewing gum has been banned. Hope and rejuvenation is in the air, everyone believes in the Singapore Dream. Young musicians strive to give birth to a local music industry, creating local music at a rapid pace. Music cafes spring up everywhere alongside the hot new trend, karaoke. Jiaming is a free spirited teenager who has never taken school seriously. His parents own a music pub called 'Meng Chuan', and Jiaming feels schooling is useless as he wants to help out at the business.

True enough, Jiaming flunks his 'O' level exams and drops out of school. Jiaming's buddies Caogen, Haoban and Xiaopang pass their exams and move on to Junior College. But they are caught renting porn magazines by the principal and are suspended for a month. During this month, the boys take part in a local music competition, have a taste of first love, and work hard to bring business back to the struggling 'Meng Chuan'. 

This coming-of-age tale sees Jiaming and gang learn the harsh realities of pursuing dreams in the real world. In growing up, the boys learn that choosing between your heart and societal expectations is akin to losing your innocence to the adult world. The eventual closure of the pub 'Meng Chuan' paralells the real world demise of the 'Xinyao' movement around the mid-90s. It signifies the lost of youthful innocence to the necessities of growing up.


My Thoughts 

That Girl in Pinafore - 我的朋友,我的同学,我爱过的一切 would be my first local movie (in the cinema) after quite some time. Singapore in the 1900s (seems quite long ago) and all the things that happened during that period together with Singapore folk songs (I seriously never knew there was a 'xinyao' movement) makes the premise of this movie, along with the 'growing pains' of 4 boys and their friends. The movie as its description depicts it is really a simple one that although is entertaining (at some points) and conveys how dreams and realities of life often collide (and are beyond expectation), seems to fall sort in more ways then one.

It would have been nice if there was some commentary to explain the particular time (e.g. banning of chewing gum, pagers etc...) in Singapore (especially for those who are too young to remember, not born during that time, or people other than Singaporeans). The movie starts off on the presumption that all its audience knows what is going on (or at least during that time - the 'xinyao' movement). By doing so, it limits its potential reach (well, I was a little lost as I really had no idea what was the 'xinyao' movement or that it was really that popular during that time).

Time era aside, it was either the choice of actors (20s to 30s wearing school uniforms and acting adolescent was a little weird for me) or the plot: need it really have been secondary school students going on to junior college? why couldn't there have been an exploration of the education system at that time (e.g. ploytechnic and ites as well)? The premise of this movie is about how the coming-of-age tale sees Jiaming and gang learn the harsh realities of pursuing dreams in the real world (what dreams?).

Through this movie, I never knew that one could cycle (with pillion) at night from the heartlands to East Coast, Serangoon, Chinatown (and I can't remember where else and not exactly in that order) all the way to Changi Airport without breaking a sweat! Seriously... has anyone tried cycling over such a distance in one night? lol I am just curious (real life is not as fabulous as reel life always depicts after all). 

That aside, the music was pretty nice and like mentioned before, there were moments of the funny and entertainment. It's kind of like a mini musical (with the singing and music) with a homey local 'Singaporean' flavor, suitable to watch at home on the tv on a rainy day over a cup of hot coffee/tea/chocolate.

While it is not an exciting movie, it is an ok movie that worth taking a look if you want to reminiscence about those times and can relate to these times, or simply want to have a better understanding of life and youth during those times (Singlish, pagers, tea dances and all). Kudos to the production team for the 90s props (pagers, old land-line phones, pay phone, even cassette tapes and discmans!). Those born during 1990s might not even know of their existence or actually have seen/used  them).

If you have watched it, what do you think of it? Do share! ^^


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