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The Teenage Textbook Movie

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Just the other day a couple of my friends and I had a heated debate about love, in relation to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book Love in the Time of Cholera. Just what kind of love did the male protagonist have for the heroine? Was it love, or was it lust? Did they even love each other at all?

ttt.jpgWe never came to a conclusion – it was impossible to because of the complexity of the characters in the novel. What we realise though, was that there are many versions of love, and teenage love was just one of those unforgettable encounters that young people go through. Teenage love really is the beginning of self and social exploration.

This might be the reason why The Teenage Textbook Movie still struck a chord with the full-house crowd here at Sinema Old School during its inaugural screening. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, both director Philip Lim and author Adrian Tan were down to reminiscence about their experience (which we will reveal more later).

Despite the long and cliched montages of buildings, fast-flowing traffic, HDB flats and other wholesome snapshots of the Sunny Little Island, the film still held a certain appeal, and stood well against the test of time. Whether the audiences were reminiscing about their teenage lives 10 years ago, or younger folks harbour fresh memories of their first three months in Junior College, the film portrayed a teenage life that even teenagers in the future will associate with.

The plot is straight forward, so I’ll skip the synopsis. What struck me more while watching it was how much Singapore has changed: the school system, the people – the laughs garnered from the audiences indicated that many could still remember how those days were. More importantly, despite the changes in the exteriors of things and people, the insides of many humans are still attached to the idea of romance.

With cameo appearances by Adrian Tan and Royston Tan, the Teenage Textbook presents itself as part narrative, part dialogue perspective of a teenage mind. With an equal mixture of teenage struggles and comic moments, the film is a good tribute to the recent past which involved the ‘personal touch’, like using love letters and mere telephone calls to communicate. Problems are worked out, not over web chats, but face-to-face with your parents’ wrath. In a sense, Singapore has changed from an open society to a closed, secluded and isolated one as we bury our heads in the screens in front of us.

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