Movie Review – That Girl in Pinafore

The first obvious comparison people will make, is to Apple of my Eye. You might know it better as 那些年,我们一起追的女孩,since even the working title sounds similar. But 我的朋友,我的同学,我爱过的一切 revolves around a simpler premise. On the surface it looks like a clichéd coming-of-age romance story about first loves, but the director himself hinted that he needed that to get funding for the movie. The movie really is an excuse to showcase old school xinyao songs that, before now, have long been forgotten. In their current incarnation, the musical arrangements sound more modern now, while still retaining the spirit of the original songs, inviting you to listen to the lyrics and the simple tunes oozing a Singaporean authenticity that – I suspect – many Singaporeans are struggling to find. And that alone makes this a must-watch movie for all Singaporeans (and even some non-Singaporeans).

Most of the actors are actually quite terrible singers – check out the live footage on RazorTV for concrete evidence. That the songs still sound great, speaks volumes about the songwriters and the songs themselves. The lyrics use simple words and the tunes use simple melodies, but each one plays out like a main character in the movie, with his/her own story, experiences and lessons to share. During a time when Singaporeans are feeling alienated from their own country, the movie offers hope that regardless of its young age, Singapore does have its own identity. And secretly, I suspect viewers will be quite proud to understand the hidden references to local culture in the movie, since that conclusively puts them into the “true Singaporean” category. And it really gave me a certain level of pride to see East Coast Park, Chinatown, Geylang, appearing on the big screen – a domain typically reserved for the awesome cities of New York, London and Tokyo. It affirmed my lonely suspicions that the stories we have in this part of the world, are stories worth telling too.

Kind of embarrassing, but I teared up at the end during the solo piano version of 细水长流。I’m sure anyone who has went to school before can relate to its lyrics.

Review score: 4.5/5, if you grew up in Singapore. I mean, 闲歌记忆?Who can say no to song dedications?

3/5, if you’re Taiwanese or a fan of 陈妍希 instead.