When Hainan meets Teochew – Movie Review


If you are a romcom fan like me, you’ll see the connection in the title between this movie and the most famous romcom of all time.  (Sigh…don’t know? When Harry Meets Sally!)

That, however, is where the similarity ends. This director/writer Han Yew Kwang, in his opening address to the audience on opening night, calls this movie a romcom. Yes, it is, except that in Hollywood, romcoms are fronted by pretty actresses and popular actors. Here, we get a ‘manly woman’ and a ‘womanly man’.

Usually, i would get an uncomfortable eeky feeling watching effeminate men. If not for my friend who invited me along to support an Nanyang alumni (Lee Chau Min, the lead actress), I would have missed this wonderful, heartwarming story.

It’s such a clever twist of romcom. Teochew, an effeminate man working as a stylist ( does not cross-dress in his daily live, thank goodness), has shampoo-advert-kind of flowing tresses, got kicked out of his apartment by his Tamil landlord (how local can we get?) and ended up renting a room from Hainan, a woman who dresses in man’s clothes.

Although both had same-sex relationship before, they are now single. Attraction between them is hinted in their dreams of each other and threatened to be exposed in real life when Hainan’s ex-girlfriend arrived to stay.

The movie also highlights the difficulty their family faces with having a gender-challanged member. While Hainan’s mother is more forgiving, Teochew’s father has not spoken to his son in years.

The show’s dialogue, although mainly in Mandarin, is peppered with Hainanese, Teochew, Tamil and English, making the movie endearingly Singaporean.

Overall, a uniquely Singaporean movie that is worthy of your support.

By the way, I learned a Teochew phrase and couldn’t wait to repeat to Mike. He said his Granny used to tell him that.

要吃好鱼吃白鲳 AI JIAK HO HU JIAK PEH CHEO,
要娶新娘苏六娘 AI CHUA SIM BO SU LAK NEO

(Funny how this was not in the Book of Teochew Idioms which I bought in Chaozhou recently.)

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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3 Responses to When Hainan meets Teochew – Movie Review

  1. That idiom is a uniquely S’pore, made-in S’pore flavour due to the Teochew
    opera ‘Soo luck neo’…By the way, I am a ‘soo kee’ ah kor lah..meaning I am Hainanese.
    Just back from Hainan Island in September this year. And really love there!

    We Hainanese and Teochew are a closer dialect group ..I have two Teochew brother-in-laws and one Teochew sister-in-law…Ahem! my wife incidentally is Hainan mei…Hahaa! my first date donkey years before marriage was a Teochew ‘ah nie’
    No round -up leh!

    On a lighter vein…..
    Fate has a hand for you to choose…..(a partner)
    If you missed it , thank God you are saved !

    Your choice…single or hitched?

  2. vickychong says:

    Hi Patrick,
    Go watch the movie. You’ll love the Hainanese spoken there, sounded so funny. (oops! no offence please.)
    I am a Teochew speaking Hokkien married to a Teochew. Three generations visited his hometown in Chaoan in June and my three sons learned alot about their heritage.

    Yo have kids? Adults?

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review | Vicky's Writings

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