SOLOS should be renamed DUMB

20 Feb

Since the Singapore International Film Festival never screens movies with cuts, the controversial gay-themed and locally made movie, SOLOS was not released. It was shown recently during Queer Screens 2008, the film festival component of Sydney’s Mardi Gras, which attracted a small niche and art house audience. Thank god it never reached a large audience since it is not worth the price of the ticket anyway.

Made without any audible dialogues, it pathetically tries to capture the intricate and complex relationships amongst between supposedly, a teacher and his student. The mother of the student (again, its an assumption one has to make, to make sense of the movie) who wears an eye patch is miserable and yearning for her son who has since, moved in with his lover. To complicate matters, the student was soon caught by his lover for bringing another man home. The teacher decided to join in… …

Sounds like a saucy plot except that all these details are made on filmsy assumptions. As such, the biggest headache or problem with SOLOS is this – it does not make any sense, not in the traditional sense, and even dumbfounding for the most liberal art house critic. One might add, it should be aptly re-titled, DUMB for the following reasons:

1. The characters in the movie do not speak to themselves, with one another and supposedly communicate their innermost felt emotions and desires through physical acts – such as dancing, hitting the table or smashing things which begets the fundamental question, “What is the purpose of not having any dialogues when ambient music and crass background noise dominates?”

Was the director trying to cultivate an air of eccentricity in this movie? Express the frustration and mundaneness of contemporary life or the taboo subject of gay relationships? It should hence be renamed DUMB since the characters in the film are resolutely speechless.

2. Because it is a stupid movie. It is easy to criticize something as stupid but there is substantiaton for the claim. The entire film does not capture anything of substance and is utterly devoid of form, structure and content that it makes the viewing experience meaningless. The scenes and sequences are not worth debating as they lack context nor point of references. These would include the part where the naked student is struggling with overflowing red robes or a close up of fishes flopping about in the jungle. There is no plot to speak of unless one makes the assumptions that have been made (as I have related above, based on what other reviewers wrote) but that is again, debatable. To conclude, SOLOS can be compared to watching an artist who is merely doing a freeform painting for the sake of personal gratification or worst, mental masturbation, so much so, that it leaves a bland after- taste experience.

One might ask if the movie should at least be commended for its man on man sex scenes. That is however to miss the point of the film-watching experience. It is easy to display flesh or invite controversy with gratituous sex scenes in contemporary films. If we were to judge the merits of a film by its daringness to strip, then most porn movies would be considered works of high art.

To strip the film of its context, the characters of their personality and to pass them off as inherently miserable using static and distant shots while overlapping it with an incoherent soundtrack comprising of monotonous ambient music and background noise, does not, an art film make. Don’t confuse art with tastelessness.

SOLOS is dumb, uninspiring and so dull that one would rather stare at the passing clouds in the sky.

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