Evaluation of ???When Hainan Satisfies Teochew???This piece first appeared for the Good Vibrations Magazine.
The trailer from the new Singaporean film 'When Hainan Meets Teochew' was enough to influence me that I were required to watch it. The movie was premised like a romantic comedy from your 'manly' woman, and also a 'womanly' man, instead of the usual Hollywood cliché when a handsome man meets an attractive lady plus they fall in love with some complications are overcome.
The synopsis read: “One day, a brassiere drops on Teochew. He immediately wins the lottery and decides and keep it. Hainan begins an arduous try to find her precious underwear, distributing numerous missing posters around her neighbourhood. Teochew sees one on the posters, and the curiosity is piqued. Bumping into Hainan 1 day, he asks regarding the brassiere, although he's got no aim of returning it. Unfortunately, he lets slip a lot more than he should, and Hainan becomes suspicious…”
For individuals who are unaware, the Hainanese of Singapore are descendants of immigrants from Hainan, China's southernmost island province. Teochews are descendants of such from the Chaozhou region of Guangdong, China. Hainanese males are reputed to produce the best husbands, while Teochew girls supposedly increase the risk for prettiest wives. (I am Teochew but alas, I cannot speak the dialect well.)
As a sexologist, I am obviously enthusiastic about all media portrayals of gender roles and sexual orientation, particularly Asia. I went in needing to like the film, but I had my doubts. Would the movie be contrived, further reinforce negative gender stereotypes and misconceptions, or even be downright distasteful? Would the filmmaker, Han Yew Kwang, who also wrote the development, have the ability to pull off this unlikely storyline?
Having watched it, I have to claim that Han managed it splendidly. Here are some logic behind why:
1) The movie is entertaining. It elicited laughs even through its 'cruder' elements, for example the tussle with the main characters on the bra, and also delivery of slapstick humour, mainly inside the Mandarin language, with Hainanese, Teochew, Tamil and English included. This approach is quite welcome, as I imagine it will help alleviate the discomfort the Singaporean audience can be experiencing using the film's controversial subject.
My western friends have been with me cringed at what you perceived as 'overacting'. As a local, my personal was different. The seemingly over-the-top acting are in fact perceptive portrayals of how some residents do indeed behave in the real world. Contrary to public perception, Asians can be very vocal when aggravated. In short, I was sold around the acting though I found it problematical explaining why to my girlfriends.
2) Neither Lee Chau Min (Hainan-boy) nor Tan Hong Chye (Ms. Teochew) are professional actors. I liked how the leads were cast as strong individuals. I could perceive this because I had already worked while using male lead (Tan Hong Chye) a long time ago. He would be a costume designer for any theater get more info production by which I was working backstage. Later, throughout the Q&A following screening, the filmmaker, being friends while using two leads, shared that they had consulted with all the actors through the scriptwriting and this essentially the three ones came up using the script. Hence, the actors were liberated to give authentic responses and even more or less played themselves from the film – they're neither more butch nor more effete compared to they are in everyday activity.
3) The movie, probably for the first time inside the lives of numerous members on the audience, brings about ask tough questions regarding what it methods to be man or woman. Is it dependant upon one's behavior, looks, or maybe their genitals? What is normal? The fact how the actors also inquire along the same lines of a single another and themselves only causes it to be more honest. That, therefore, we can feel liberal to ask those questions.
Actress Yeo Yann Yann plays Hainan's ex-girlfriend. Her sudden appearance propels the narrative, leading Hainan and Teochew to confront their feelings per other. Hainan and Yann Yann share a full-on lesbian kiss on the watch's screen in a flash-back scene. This raises more questions from the difference between one's sexual orientation versus their sexual preference. Could Hainan have been within a lesbian relationship, yet even be romantically thinking about Teochew who's going to be a feminine-looking man? Does it really matter, anyway?
The question of what is 'normal' is further emphasized with the portrayal of Teochew's Indian landlord. The landlord looks 'normal' by any standards externally but is engaged inside a daily routine of speaking to a children's doll. In comparison, Teochew and Hainan are in all probability more well-adjusted persons.
Overall, 'When Hainan Meets Teochew' is often a unique Singaporean movie that tackles some serious gender and sexuality issues within a light-hearted manner. It will not take itself too seriously and, therefore, may actually be a wonderful sex education movie. Their Facebook page can be used.