“Singapore is one big shopping center!” blurts a character in Wee Li-lin’s quietly ironic feature debut, which goes to the empty heart of the Lion State’s culture more effectively than many artier pics repping the island on the fest circuit. After several shorts, “Gone Shopping” sank on late July release, but would make a good addition to any Asian-focused fest looking beyond the usual suspects like Royston Tan or Eric Khoo.
Well-known TV presenter Kym Ng plays 40-year-old Clara Wong, who’s been hooked on shopping since childhood but has misgivings about becoming a stereotypical Singaporean tai-tai (gossipy, middle-aged housewife). A chance meeting with old flame Valentine Tan (Adrian Pang) raises hopes of an escape from her boring marriage, if he has the cojones. Almost entirely set in a couple real-life shopping centers, pic smoothly cross-cuts stories of other mallrats, including two typical young rebels without a cause — geeky Aaron (Aaron Kao) and Goth babe Hui-hui (Magdalene Tan) — and a young Tamil girl (Sonya Nair, charming), who simply loses her parents while shopping. Elegantly shot on HD, and with a semi-fairy-tale atmosphere, this is something small but fresh from Singapore’s tiny industry.