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TIFF 2019 Review: Wet Season

A Chinese language teacher in Singapore finds herself drawn towards one of her students.

 A young woman is in the driver’s seat of a parked car injecting a needle into her bruised belly indicating that this is not the first time; she subsequently appears in a classroom and is revealed to be a Chinese language teacher of secondary school students in Singapore.  Outside of her professional life, the teacher cares for her invalid father-in-law and is taking fertility injections in hopes of becoming impregnated by her distant husband.  While conducting a remedial afterschool class, the protagonist forms a bond with a male student who is as neglected by his parents as she is by her spouse.

Rain is a dominant recurring image reflecting the prevailing sadness and disillusionment of the main character.  There appears to be no relief in sight as life only seems to offer misery after misery.  Yeo Yann Yann gives a strong performance as the perpetually suffering Ling without delving into melodrama and Yang Shi Bin gives a touching performance as the invalid patriarch.  Unfortunately, the rest of the cast does not reach the same level of authenticity and believability.

The cool colour pallet heights the sense of depression and the camera makes the audience an eyewitness to what unfolds.  The writing has to be called into question as a series of events have been overtly constructed to justify the conclusion which can be seen as either criminal or liberating; even though it is fundamental to the narrative structure I wish a less conventional path had been taken in regards to the relationship between teacher and student.

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Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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