List Film

Be With Me (3 stars)

(12A) 93min



Dominated by static shots, and sparse in dialogue, Singaporean director Eric Khoo’s third feature follows a frustrating arc which is resolved unevenly in the last half hour. Ostensibly it’s three intercut stories - Meant to Be, where an old shopkeeper faces up to the loss of his wife; So in Love, detailing nascent love between teenage girls Jackie (Ezann Lee) and Sam (Samantha Tan) and the subsequent rejection of one by the other; and Finding Love, in which podgy security man Fatty Koh (Yew Seet keng) dreamily stalks a pretty lady. Yet, halfway through the film, the real-life story of Theresa Chan is also brought into focus.

Going deaf at 14, and subsequently blind, she tells of how she went to school despite those disabilities and how she’s written her autobiography. Interesting, but what precedes has a cynical air about it: the dead eye of the camera frames scenes too finely, mocking the sadness and frail hopes of the fictional characters. As Chan’s homily finishes it becomes clear her tale is woven into the fiction of the old shopkeeper, via his son, and a touching moment closes the film. The other two tales end in risible melodrama, confirming that it was wise not to invest much in them.

Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 10 Nov.


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