I heard about this movie from a friend back in 2007/08 but never had a chance to watch it...until now. Someone uploaded it on Youtube with Chinese and English Subtitles.
It's one of the best South East Asian Films I've ever seen (and I watch many!!!!) and definitely can squeeze into the top best 15 South East Asian film list of mine. It uses alot of Singaporean English (Singlish), Hokkien Dialect, Mandarin Dialect in the conversations and is really very very authentic with its characters, their conversations and the setting. Coming from Malaysia myself, the entire film felt very homely given that Singapore and Malaysia share a common history, culture, language, and people despite being two different countries since 1965.
The opening song is a famous Taiwanese Hokkien Song from 1933 called 'Ban Chun Hong' and its used as a background theme throughout the film which I really really like. The idea of using the song came from one of the director/writer's mother as the Director had called her mother and asked her which songs were popular during her times, and the mother's first suggestion was this song.
The Taiwanese and many Southeast Asian Chinese share a common dialect background of Minnan/Hokkien Chinese dialect and thus many Taiwanese Hokkien songs and popular culture were very popular with the older generation of Southeast Asian Chinese, especially in Malaysia and Singapore. I still remember my own now deceased Grandfather on my mother's side renting vhs tapes to watch Taiwanese Hokkien Chinese Operas at home.
The film has many themes and issues covering a wide range of topics such as the traditional egoistical man of the house, the docile housewife belittled by the husband from the generation now in their 50s and above, class aspirations, sexism in the family in favouring the son over the daugther, materialism,etc. It also has many well written and clevely emotional moments. My personal favourites include the scene where the elder father gives the wife pearl earrings but she isn't that happy and you find out why which was very clever writing and true too.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C4%81ng_Chhun-hong)
I would like to introduce something close to my heart, which is the state of society and social issues and human stories in Asia. I watch entire Hong Kong TV current affairs programs on Youtube on a biweekly basis and so am pretty up to date with Hong Kong's current societal issues and challenges facing the society there. Many years ago, I stumbled across this reality program which put individuals from wealthy and privileged backgrounds for 1 week or so in the position of a poor person and see how they live. This allows both the individuals and the audience to engage in and gauge the magnitude of the problem of wealth inequality and societal imbalances in Hong Kong as we follow these characters in various roles and positions over the course of an episode. This reality series started in 2009 and came back again in 2011. I watched the first two series (as I had discovered it when they had finished broadcasting) and was totally absorbed with it. I waited for the third series to come as I knew there was a gap of over 1 year between the first two series but by mid-2013, I lost hope and thought the series was not going to have a third edition as maybe funds ran out or they lost the ability to find new wealthy individuals interested in participating. However, low and behold, I found out on Youtube (as I subscribe to RTHK's Youtube Channel) one night that the Series' Third Edition was coming back!!
Previous editions had about 4-6 episodes for each series and this time, there were 5 episodes for the 2013 series. This time, similar to previous editions, wealthy individuals would live in squalid and cramped housing conditions and work low-end low paid jobs in difficult and harsh conditions like many lower rung Hong Kong people. However, this time, they have to come up with a plan to help the lower income residents and each episode is themed with a focus such as housing issues or education access,etc.
Please have a watch if you understand Cantonese or can read Chinese subtitles. It's really well-worth it. Each episode of each series has managed to touch me profoundly and is extremely insightful. You come to realise we're all the same as human beings and there is nothing different between us..all pain is the same, and all love is the same, or similar. Like I like to say, the human spirit and determination knows no end, and nothing is impossible to the human capacity for endurance and perseverance.:)
Charlie Yeung Choi-Nei (whom like me has half-Taiwanese heritage-her mother is Taiwanese) just got married to her Singaporean boyfriend of almost 20 years in Singapore at the W-Hotel Sentosa this past weekend!!:) I've loved her since she became famous in the early 1990s and me being a self-admitting 90s child, am both very surprised and happy for her:)