My notes on Ilo Ilo:
1. Yeo Yann Yann was great, but Angeli Bayani owned this movie. Her acting was so natural and free of hysterics typical in any movie with a Filipina maid.
Actually, the movie wasn’t even about the Filipina maid. She didn’t get raped or abused in Singapore. It was about a Singaporean family trying to live through the effects of the late ’90s financial crisis.
2. Everything here was so vivid and authentic that I felt like I grew up in late ’90s Singapore. Subtle and lovely.
Loved the atmosphere. Just watching it made me feel homesick.
3. I found some of the dialogue a bit off, though. How often do Filipinos really use the words “rubbish” or “nonsense”?
4. The sight of Lucky Plaza always makes me feel happy.
5. There was one sloppy scene where the cameraman was visible in the school bathroom mirror. What happened there?
6. Tamagotchi!! Do you guys still remember that? I cried every single time mine died from poop overdose.
7. It was amazing how restrained the movie was. It had all the ingredients of a full-blown melodrama but there were no extended crying scenes, no blatant heart-tugging moments, no excessive hysteria. If this were a Pinoy film, the airport scene would have been 15 minutes long with overflowing Urian-worthy tears and a swelling cheesy musical score.
8. Speaking of airport scene, I bawled my eyes out in that one even if the movie didn’t really set it up to be a dramatic moment. Angeli didn’t even cry. All the tears came from my seat because I was so invested in these characters.
When Jiale grabbed Terry’s arm, I sobbed like there was no tomorrow. I am a walking Pinoy melodrama.
(Originally published March 16, 2014.)