Singapore-born, now L.A.-resident Djinn (aka Djinn Ong) casts a bleak eye on his home country with “Perth,” tale of a disillusioned cab driver whose dreams of emigrating to Western Australia end in tragedy. Helmer-writer’s first regular feature, after no-budget, DV horror pic “Return to Pontianak” (which played some fests), shuttles between local conversational humor, nicely atmospheric scenes and wild over-acting. But there’s a nascent talent at work that may find fulfillment in the helmer’s next outing.
Middle-aged Harry Lee (Lim Kay-tong) is pinkslipped from a shipyard and starts over as a cabbie, still fantasizing about moving to Perth. His ex-wife (Liu Qiulian) shafted him financially, and his grown son (Kevin Murphy) despises him; his only soul mate is fellow cabbie Selva (Victory Selvam), who shares his bleak view of Singaporean life. When an entrepreneurial friend, Angry Boy Lee (Sunny Pang, good), gets him a job driving up-market hookers to clients, Harry falls for one, a Vietnamese called Mai (Ivy Cheng), with eventually bloody results. Ending is way too over-the-top, and some of the dialect-heavy dialogue will resonate only with local viewers, but tech package (blown up from Super-16) is fine.