Sunday, September 11, 2005

Be With Me (Eric Khoo) 50 – Taking an original approach to the biopic, Eric Khoo’s Be With Me is a mixture of some truly fresh ideas and a few very tired ones. The opening credits inform the audience that the film has been adapted from the autobiography of Theresa Chan, but if not for that hint, you’d never guess that this boldly structured film had a single, non-fiction source until its midway point. For the first forty-five minutes of Be With Me, Ms. Chan is just one of a diverse set of characters who roam around Singapore, feeling generally disconnected from those they desire the most.

It’s become cliché to make an art house film these days about alienation, but by eventually bringing Ms. Chan’s story to the fore, he somewhat redeems that decision. Deaf and blind since the age of fourteen, Ms. Chan is an inspiring figure. We eventually see excepts from her autobiography, relayed to us only through subtitles, and soon come to understand how it is that she has reached out from her state to touch those around her. In practice, Khoo’s film becomes about our need to communicate; to share our stories and to relate to those of others. It’s disappointing, then, that the stories of those people that she touches aren’t more interesting. Though each of them is thematically relevant to the whole, they intersect with one another in unsatisfying ways, feeling like third-rate Tsai.

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