CAROUSEL REVIEWS

Loneliness and Yearning Encapsulates A Woman’s Life In THE LIFE WE LIVE 他妈的日常

2 September 2019

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Loneliness and Yearning Encapsulates A Woman’s Life In THE LIFE WE LIVE 他妈的日常

A woman lives alone in the sinking harbour city of Klang, and attempts to find joy in her lonely life as she waits for people who might never return. 

Director: Loh Din-Yung

Cast: Thong Yew Ling

Year: 2018

Country: Malaysia

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Runtime: 19 mins


It’s always easy to think of leaving, be it to enjoy a new environment or for a good education or in hopes of getting a better life. But how about the people who are left behind?

In The Life We Live, we follow a lone woman as she ekes out a lonely existence in the harbour city of Klang. She’s been left behind by the rest of her family, and the mundanity of her life is evident in the colours of her landscape. Her surroundings, mostly painted in bleak, faded colours, seem to mimic the lack of excitement in her current existence, and the film is set in the gritty reality of its desaturated hues.

Her living conditions are by no means austere. Her tiny figure, juxtaposed against a larger empty background as she slams on piano keys alone in her living room in an attempt to console herself, seems to blatantly showcase her lifestyle as bare and hollow, despite lush living conditions. 

The film’s soundscape further emphasises this loneliness. The background noise of buzzing traffic and idle chatter and waves crashing against the shore is overwhelming compared to her relative silence, and this silence is amplified when she retreats into her equally noiseless home. Tension underlies the open spaces of her apartment as she busies herself with doing chores, and this tension is all too palpable to the people who have lived through the same solitude. 

We engage in the same routine as she does when we attempt to find a spark of excitement in our own lives: we entertain ourselves with new hobbies, we eat, we busy ourselves with mindless work and we attempt to contact people who might take away some of our loneliness. This plays out in the film’s observation of the banality of her life, and it’s only towards the end of the film that we understand her plight.

She’s been left behind, perhaps for good. The boat has long sailed, yet her adamance in holding on is shown in the way she resolutely ploughs on through life and waits for a phone that never rings. It is almost heart-breaking in its emptiness, and the original score, simple yet echoing with yearning, encapsulates the story of her life as it is now. 

Beyond her closed doors, however, are things that she doesn’t notice from her limited perspective. Through a voice-over that takes us along the various sights of Klang, we slowly come to learn of the truth — and it is all the more unnerving in its universality and relatability.

Contemplative and poignant, The Life We Live is an observational look into one woman’s lonely existence, and it captures the reality of her desolation without excessive drama or flair.

The Life We Live has been selected to take part in the SeaShorts Competition at the 2019 SeaShorts Film Festival, which will be held in Malacca from 25 – 29 September 2019. You can catch The Life We Live at the festival, along with many other excellent Southeast Asian films, by registering for a pass via Peatix.


About SeaShorts Film Festival

SeaShorts is an annual celebration of Southeast Asian short film featuring film screenings, forums, workshops, exhibitions, and music performances by filmmakers. Its inaugural edition was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2017.

Across its past two editions, over 1500 filmmakers and cinephiles from the region came together to watch, indulge and celebrate the complex buffet of ASEAN stories, as well as learn about the latest independent filmmaking techniques through film screenings, forums, masterclasses, and workshops.

Visit their Facebook page for more information.

somehow both a dreamer and a realist at once; more articulate in the written word
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