SIFF Review: 18 Grams of Love

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A piece of paper weighs 8g.
An envelope weighs 10g.
Together, that’s 18g.
Why bother writing and mailing a love letter when you can easily send an email or SMS?

181.jpgA love letter is all it took to win a girl’s heart back in the retro times. But is this century-old trick still the way to go and pacify the woman of your dreams?

A simple tale of jealousy and doubt between husband and wife unfolds in Han Yew Guang’s dramatic comedy – 18 grams of love. It all began with Zihua and Ah Hui both suspecting their wives are having an affair. So, this pair of buddies of 15 years decides to launch a love letter seduction at each other’s wife in hopes to proof their suspicion of them being unfaithful. However their clever plan leaves them doubting their other half even more and the prolonged distrust finally leads to an eruption of emotions in the final confrontation.

183.jpgHan Yew Guang explores the core foundation of relationships through a surprisingly light hearted manner and exaggerated acting with a funny dose of martial arts tactics. Although the melodramatic presentation might not sit well with all but I would say that it is this exaggeration that brings out the humour of the story and to a certain extent, compensate for the stiff acting.

Throughout the film, Zihua (Alaric Tay) and Ah Hui (Adam Chen) mirrors each other’s actions while being contrastingly different. Scenes of them side by side writing letters, drinking and checking the mailbox indeed highlight Zihua and Ah Hui’s similarities and stark differences. But however, the downside to it is that the actions become too predictable and repeated.

Dialogue, actions, camera angles are repeated so extensively that one may even question where did all the creativity go? The same dialogue – word for word – is repeated by each character in similar situations. It might be justified that repetition is to show how different people interpret the same issue, but it seems a tad over done in 18 grams of love.

182.jpgEmphasis on the two male leads certainly does give great in depth of their mindset and reasoning of such a love letter seduction. Extensive character development of the male leads can be seen but within the limited time frame of the film, the female characters seem to be neglected in return. Xiao Tong (Magdalene See) and Michelle (Yann Yeo) are the basis why the love letters came about but yet there is little insight to their psychology. It was only till the end where we go through a crash course of the couples’ relationships through a female perspective.

The set is remarkably set up and brings out the timeless aura of the film. Even though the locations might be limited to such a few, each is done up to great details with bold colour schemes. The deliberate and obvious colour palette for each character again works well in contributing to the exaggerated presentation of the film.

Although dramatize like a stage play, 18 grams of love manages to bring out the importance of trust and communication between couples. A relationship may only concern two people but perhaps it is only through a third party that couples can finally admit the problems in their relationship rather than live in denial and feign ignorance to their issues. It also reminds us that we often forget that it is also the most basic and most old fashioned ways that are the most effective ways to each others’ hearts.

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