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FILM REVIEW: The T(h)ree Lives4 min read

12 March 2019 3 min read


FILM REVIEW: The T(h)ree Lives4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rosie Wong, a blind woman, shares a retrospective account about the three lives which shaped her. Among them, Pak Cik Tubi Moh Salleh, who tirelessly helped her cross the road to get to work everyday for 5 years. An actress wears a blindfold and traces Rosie’s account of the past in the present, meeting real people.

Director: K. Rajagopal
Year: 2019
Cast: Wendy Toh, Noorlinah Mohamed
Language: English
Runtime: 18min

Review by Jean Wong

The T(h)ree Lives puts a unique twist on a true story by turning the film into a social experiment as Rosie Wong’s story is narrated to us. Inspired by The Giving Tree, K. Rajagopal decides to search for this giving spirit in Singapore — and explore how a small act of kindness can greatly change someone’s life for the better.

Director Rajagopal managed to adapt Rosie’s story into a film brilliantly. There were many stylistic choices made throughout the film that added to the particularly stunning delivery of the story.

As we watch Rosie (Wendy Toh) go about her day, we’re fed details about her history with her blindness through the narration. The scenes unfolding in the present gradually begin to make more sense as we learn of Rosie’s backstory along the way. The idea of feeding us alternate information at the same time using two different senses wraps the film in a sense of surrealism. The beauty of the direction thus comes to life precisely through this intersection where past and present combine.

On the other hand, although we hear Rosie’s voice plenty through her internal narration, the film never allows us to hear her voice in real time. This submerges us deeper into the film as we’re privy only to Rosie’s thoughts yet unable to interact with the environment. Rather, we can only watch her from afar, which adds to the surrealness of the film.

The sound used throughout the film has clearly been given much thought as well. In the many shots of Rosie journeying through the city, the noise of the traffic is made explicitly loud. This draws out a sense of paranoia of crossing the road, putting us squarely in Rosie’s shoes.

The T(h)ree Lives also contains many serene shots of Singapore’s nature, giving the film some breathtaking scenes to admire throughout. This is in turn paired with ambience such as bird calls and cricket chirps, mirroring the tranquility of Rosie’s current state of mind. At moments where the narration quietens, our attention ends up completely on the beautiful visuals displayed on the screen and increases our appreciation for it.

Though all of the 15Shorts films are inspired by real life stories, The T(h)ree Lives takes this a step further by incorporating reality into it — through the social experiment element, while still keeping true to Wong’s story. Watching this film is an out-of-body experience in itself that makes you look at Singapore in a more positive light.

Click here to watch The T(h)ree Lives now.

About 15 Shorts

15 Shorts is a collaboration between the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and Blue3Asia. Fifteen film directors provide an alternative perspective to the nation-building narratives of the era; their films tell true stories of Singaporeans who performed powerful acts of selflessness between the 1970s and 1990s. These are slice-of-life stories that reveal how this human, giving side has always been a part of us.

In the spirit of giving, each director will dedicate his or her film to a charity in Singapore. Working with NVPC, the directors have curated a list of charities that cover a spectrum of needs, including support for the elderly, people with autism, and migrant workers.

About The Director’s Chosen Organisation

The Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) serves Singapore citizens and permanent residents of all age groups who must be certified with low vision (partial sight) or blind by an eye specialist or ophthalmologist. This includes people who are born blind as well as those who have lost their vision through accidents, illnesses or ageing. SAVH has over 3,000 registered clients ranging from infants to the elderly and has been providing these clients with eye care, rehabilitation, training, counselling, jobs and a place to belong to. Click here if you’d like to donate to the organisation.

Contemplative empath who sees wonder in the curious world. Has a habit of hiding behind books and occasionally dabbles in games, Netflix and YouTube. Is permanently attached to bubble tea.
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