It was the National Day weekend and coincided with my sister’s last weekend in Singapore before her return to Germany. Mike suggested we take her to the movies, something she probably hasn’t done for a long time, perhaps other than accompanying her kids to some cartoon shows in Germany. Mike wanted to catch local film That Girl in Pinafore, a movie about Xin Yao, local song compositions popular in the late 80s and early 90s. Surprisingly, Aaron wanted to watched the same movie. We found out it was because his school was used in the movie, although it was never mentioned, just suggested by the uniforms and the blurred school logo. (My alma mata was also featured, with rows of girls with pony tails in white, something foreign for me to see.)
Firstly, if like me, you had wanted to feel nostalgic and reminisce on the Xin Yao songs, you’ll be disappointed, as there were some songs, but not many used, at least, not as many as those which had been used in xin yao musicals such as If there’s Season. (Hey, how about a movie on that musical?)
The story begins at Changi Airport. Students were seen mugging for the O’levels’, a familiar sight, when a group of boys from Catholic High meet some girls from St Nicholas (inferred from the uniforms). JiaMing, a matured student who had failed repeatedly, meets May, an only child of a protective single mother and a good students. The main story describes how the group, all except JiaMing, manage to get into Hwa Chong and happen to participate in the same Xin Yao Singing Contest. JiaMing and May fall in love, much to her mother’s disapproval, who wants to send May to the State for university as well as to cure her heart condition. She leaves, only to return to Singapore in a coffin and years later, we find out how she died.
There were some comparison between this coming of age movie with that of popular Taiwanese movie You Are The Apple Of My Eye (那些年, 我們一起追的女孩, 2011) which I didn’t watch, so my review is without bias.
I found the movie long-winded and nothing nostalgic, and very cliche, although it’s popular with Aaron’s classmates as well as many of the youngsters at the cinema. Horrifically, I found myself empathizing with May’s mother, as she tries to break off the relationship her daughter was in. Realistically, I would have done the same. She was a top student, and he was an O’level dropout. Their relationship would have faltered eventually even if approval have been given.
My sister found some parts heart-wrenching as she reached for the tissues, when May leaves her group of friends behind as she leaves for the States.
The young actors put in credible performance and we thought they handled the singing really well. It was refreshing to not see teenagers with handphones (it’s 1993!) and parents really did have an easier time before smart phones and internet.
Still, I would have preferred a story line (even a modern one) incorporating more Xin Yao songs into the story as the main meal, rather than having Xin Yao as a side dish. Perhaps much like the romance movies using Liu Jia Chang’s songs in eon past. Now that would be nostalgic.