2SSFA - 'Labour Day' by He Shuming

'Labour Day' provides a National Education-esque commentary of Singapore’s social landscape, thrusts a limelight on the foreign minorities residing here, and attempts to create awareness and empathy towards them. The film is aesthetically and stylistically mature and it shows that the Putnam School of Film’s LaSalle College of the Arts First Class Honors graduate is clearly at ease behind the camera, and his film knowledge is alluded through his clear attention to detail. He varies his cinematic angles, plays with depth of field, utilizes apt music compositions, dabbles in appropriate color schemes of mutes with bright overtones, and expresses sensitivity to framing and lines in a shot (the misè-en-scene of the toilet scene was impressive). Right down to the typography of his opener and his subtitles – which, by the way, gets me started on how irksome the standards of subtitles are in most of the short films I watched.

While Labour Day was the easiest to sit through for the evening, it falls prey to tackiness in the end when metaphorical chimera takes over in the style of the 1980s music video that simply espouses the myth in the plus-sized lady’s head. But my bad if that’s an innuendo to the golden adage “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”. Unfortunately, too, character arcs are lightweight and one-dimensional – and it being a short film is no excuse for fleshing them out at least adequately. The film easily perpetrates the stereotypes that local minorities fall prey to, under the veil of job opportunities in this concrete jungle.

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