In a nutshell
The fates of an overworked clerk, a stuttering Doraemon fan and a debt-ridden porn VCD seller are intertwined as they go through the worst day of their lives.
A film for the quirky
S11 is a local film that received such a mixed bag of reviews, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. After watching it, I realise why — this is the kind of movie that either speaks to you or doesn’t.
For one, it is evident that directors Gilbert Chan and Joshua Chiang have added a generous dose of their personal quirks into the story, from the frequent appearances of Doraemon to the constant references to the popular Hong Kong series, Young and Dangerous. The non-linear narrative of the plot pays homage to Tarantino, and there are plenty of vulgarities spouted in various Chinese dialects. If any of these things tickle your fancy, then this is the movie for you.
If not, then S11 might be a little hard to appreciate. It is definitely not one of those slick and sophisticated films — the dubbing was a little too obvious, there were parts where the film quality got a bit wonky and the dialogue seemed to drag at times. But despite all these rookie qualities (and the fact that I have a slight weakness for Doraemon), I found S11 to be a sincere, bittersweet tale of three people just trying to get out of the ordinariness of their lives.
It is on this fateful, extraordinary day that Terence (Timothy Nga), a loner clerk at a jewellery store, ends up losing the store’s takings. Meanwhile, Ben (Kevin Murphy) is fired from work and gets a earful (and then some) from his overbearing mother. Michelle (Cindy Teo) is in trouble with loan sharks after she unwittingly became her good-for-nothing boyfriend’s loan guarantor. All of them appear to be in a rut, but through a series of events, their paths cross and their lives are transformed.
The story is told from three different points of views, but it is the character Terence’s account that I find most lacking, which is a bit disappointing since more screen time for the dishy Timothy Nga wouldn’t have hurt. However, this film has created possibly the most lovable Singaporean loser and ah lian with the characters of Ben and Michelle respectively. Kevin Murphy looked right at home with the nerdy glasses and pink Doraemon T-shirt, while Cindy Teo acted like she had been born with a pink wig on her head.
There is a very personable feel to S11, and the Chang and Chiang duo possess a distinctive storytelling style that is full of potential. Hopefully, we get to see them developing and finetuning it further for future film projects.
Directed by Gilbert Chan and Joshua Chiang
Running time: 90 minutes
Released in 2006
Screened at Cine.SG
- Review of S11 (movieXclusive.com)
- Review of S11 (A Nutshell Review)
- Welcome to the world of S11: Interview with Gilbert Chan and Joshua Chiang (movieXclusive.com)