7th Singapore Short Cuts - 'For Two' by Tan Shi Jie


Jeremy: I have a confession to make. I dozed off at some points in the film. Like in one scene, she would be in the cupboard and then when I blink my eyes, she is sitting at the dining table already. But ironically, this is one film I take home most with. It stretches your imagination without trying too hard. I just love how Shi Jie uses a simple prop like a cupboard to tell a story that it is multi-dimensional. And the best part is, it is such a simple tale. For those who are not aware, Shi Jie's film was in competition at the 66th Venice International Film Festival short film section. While I like the film, I am a bit hesitant to say it could compete with some really great shorts from other countries to have risen above its usual 3000+ entries to the competition. What do you think the judges saw in this one?

Raymond: I was really lost during the initial screening, and I was trying to work out the relationship between the man and the woman. Of course, if I had read the programme, I'd have known what was going on between the two. I think the main flaw is also its strength - its premise. The relationship between the widower and the woman is interesting, and yet also a little confounding on initial viewing (again, without reading the synopsis, which is in part my own fault). I wish there was a way to have this relationship explained a little more clearly, but then again I understand this relationship is supposed to be complicated and fragile in the first place. While the characters are supposed to be restrained, never once showing extremely strong emotion, it is important for audiences to be engaged and sympathize with them, and I think Shi Jie walks this tightrope with amazing grace, props to him for that. His characters are seemingly enigmatic, and we don't ever get much information about them, but we realize they need each other in a way that is only human, and in that sense we connect with them.

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