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Things We Do When We Fall in Love

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This second film by Director James Lee once again provides a good sense of reality. As the title clearly explains, it is about a couple, who undergoes a certain kind of love-hate relationship, and the things they do on a random day.

From the beginning of the film, they get off on a rocky start and just when it seems to stabalise, everything goes awry. Eventually, through a bit of communication things get better. Sound a lot like the economy, doesn’t it? It’s a cycle that goes on throughout the film.

One of the cracks in the relationship is a past affair that the man had with another woman. His reluctance to reveal to his girlfriend who he had the affair with causes the her much grief and anxiety.

The girlfriend too has her share of secrets in which she refuses to say anything about it. The hidden secrets between them results in build up of frustration and occasional emotional eruptions. For how long can you repress the past?

As they embark on this long journey to nowhere, in the man’s crumbling vehicle, the sub-consious unknowing of each other gradually rises to the surface and is confronted. When they end their journey, we see the man waking up in the apartment of another woman. The film ends on that note but it allows us to imagine what happens next in their world and maybe even in ours.

The man’s adulterous behaviour might be the reason why he is seen constantly trying to please her and why she tortures his conscience. But obviously, their way of ‘problem-solving’ is not working, and worse, backfiring.

As they constantly wander alone, about the plains of Malaysia, it shows their lack of direction in life and in the relationship. If we link this aimlessness with the very start of the film, where one of the man’s colleagues shows off his new phone with GPS, it becomes a very dark comedic scene.

Another comic element is the music. The same happy and upbeat tune is heard at the beginning, the middle and at the end of film. The lively tune somehow diminishes the seriousness of the film. Perhaps it provides a softening of the harsh reality that we are seeing.

Ups and downs in a relationship are bound to happen. It may be due to misunderstandings, rumours, disagreements, etc. That is why the values of being honest and truthful plays such a big role in strengthening a relationship. If like the couple in the film, who just goes on escaping from the problem, in the long-run nothing will be solved and the cracks will grow even deeper.

The subject of Director James Lee’s films are obvious – love. And he does a great job by depicting the reality of it through long-takes and a slow pace of life. As an audience we too become restless because we wish for it to be more exciting. However, if we survey couples, married or unmarried, we realise that boredom is part and parcel of a relationship.

Things We Do When We Fall In Love will be the second of James Lee’s love trilogy screening at the SinemAsian showcase, ‘Filem Bagus!‘, held at Sinema OldSchool, on the 28th of February 2009.

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