Review: ‘Cages’

Singapore may never have looked better, but overwrought meller "Cages" remains imprisoned by stiff performances and a continually lurching script. Though it wears its Asian badge proudly, American soap-opera sensibilities dominate and challenge the film's dramatic authenticity.

Singapore may never have looked better, but overwrought meller “Cages” remains imprisoned by stiff performances and a continually lurching script. Though it wears its Asian badge proudly — pic repped Singapore in the Pusan fest’s APEC sidebar — American soap-opera sensibilities dominate and challenge the film’s dramatic authenticity. Some fests may be seduced by the slick look but film is likely to be locked out of commercial markets.

Ali (Tan Kheng Hua) is an erratic single mom who, with her blind son (Dickson Tan), is forced to find refuge with her estranged father, Tan (Makoto Iwamatsu). Duo is challenged by the intimacy they’ve always avoided, but the boy and his grandfather bond over Tan’s singing birds. Pic never finds its center as U.S.-based writer-helmer Graham Streeter uses issues from incest to political intrigue to justify the story’s importance. Thesps strain to escape narrative constraints, but have insufficient stamina to succeed. HD lensing by Mark Lapwood is astoundingly good and Samantha Sng’s eye-catching production design is super-slick. Other tech credits are similar.

Cages

Singapore

Production

An Aquafire Prods. production. (International sales: Aquafire, Singapore.) Produced by Tania Sng, Joshua Wong. Executive producers, Graham Streeter, Sng, Frank Cody, Wong, Hari Chembukave. Directed, written by Graham Streeter.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Mark Lapwood; editor, Genevieve Lee; music, Roger Bourland; production designer, Samantha Sng. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (APEC sidebar), Oct. 7, 2005. English, Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 116 MIN.

With

Makoto Iwamatsu, Tan Kheng Hua, Zelda Rubinstein, Dickson Tan.
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