Toronto Film Review: ‘Wet Season’

Variety | 9/11/2019 | Alissa Simon
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With the bittersweet drama “Wet Season,” Singapore writer-director Anthony Chen again proves himself a perceptive observer of life and social class in his tropical nation-state and a sensitive chronicler of issues confronting women. Set during monsoon season, Chen’s delicate, nuanced portrait of the heartbreaks afflicting a dedicated schoolteacher and dutiful wife is suffused with love and humor, and directed with striking maturity and restraint. Like his 2013 debut, the Cannes Camera d’Or-winner “Ilo Ilo,” this sophomore feature draws on details from his personal life and further benefits from the casting of two of that film’s leading players: the luminous Yann Yann Yeo as the vulnerable educator and the vibrant Koh Jia Ler as her student. Further festival action and niche art-house play should follow the world premiere in Toronto’s Platform competition.

Modest, dignified and caring, the late-thirtysomething Ling (Yeo), a native Malaysian, teaches Mandarin to teens at a top boy’s academy, where both she and her subject are undervalued in favor of math and science. In advance of the grade 4 O-levels, she is willing to give remedial work to those most in need, but only the lively Wei Lun (Koh), a competitive martial artist, sticks around to participate.

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Meanwhile, on the home front, Ling’s marriage is going through a rough patch. She and her selfish husband Andrew (Christopher Lee) have been trying to conceive for eight years. Now she is undergoing painful IVF treatment and Andrew proves unsupportive; he never bothers to show up at her appointments or when she is ovulating, which only increases Ling’s suspicions that he is having an affair.

Instead of the longed-for infant to look after, Ling has her nonverbal, wheelchair-confined father-in-law (Yang Shi Bin, poignant), whom she tenderly cares for. Helmer Chen subtly underlines the similarities between...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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