A Land Imagined

A Land Imagined

GENRES Mystery Drama Thriller
LANG English Bengali zh
TIME 2019

Synopsic

A Land Imagined is a movie starring

A lonely construction worker from China goes missing at a Singapore land reclamation site, and a sleepless police investigator must put himself in the mind of the migrant to uncover the truth beneath all that sand.

A Land Imagined Reviews

  • Surreal Neo-Noir, an Absolute Gem from Singapore

    celestine1307 2019-02-26

    As a born and bred Singaporean, I can attest that unlike previous horrid depictions of Singapore, Singapore isn't filled with "Crazy Rich Asians". The glitz and glamour is present but only to the rich elite which does not represent our majority. In fact, if anything, "A Land Imagined" shows us this very fact and it is a nothing short of a cinematic achievement for Singapore. Singapore is a powerful and rich country with leading prospects in almost all industries, yet barely a film industry. A lackluster industry plagued with the typical HDB (the housing property the majority live in) poverty porn or made for locals, degenerate comedies and an occasional soft core erotic or trashy horror film. Once in an excruciatingly long while, we rejoice, when a film garners international acclaim, one like Boo Jun Feng's "Apprentice" which reflects the true potential Singaporean filmmakers can achieve. However, in the meantime, we get Hollywood to glamourize our rich and our locals to reduce our industry into one that is barely existing anymore. That is why when a gem like "A Land Imagined" arrives, Singaporeans have to cherish it more. Choosing to explore the harsher reality and a more common side of our bustling city, "A Land Imagined" manages to make Singapore look so foreign, even to the locals. Director Yeo Siew Hua shows us a side of Singapore that is familiar yet we fear to venture. A side of Singapore we are unable to recognize and admit exist easily. This bold direction he chooses to take already puts this film above the safe threshold of other Singaporean works. On surface, "A Land Imagined" is a noir mystery about a police officer (Peter Yu) looking for a migrant, land reclamation, construction worker, Wang (Liu Xiaoyi). Along the way we meet Luna Kwok's character which links both characters together and brings the mystery slightly closer to being solved. Like any other great American thriller, think "Blade Runner", "Chinatown" and "Heat", "A Land Imagined" takes its time and throughout the film, Yeo Siew Hua pays a respectable homage to other great noir films of the past. With a mesmerizing synth score at the background, juxtaposed over beautiful wide shots of the reclamation land side or gritty, yet alluring shots of the migrant workers living conditions, this film paints a neo noir look of Singapore which quickly transcends into a deeper contemplative piece. One will quickly realize that Yeo Siew Hua gathers a lot from other films he has watched, yet the end product is something so refreshing for not only the local film industry but the entire film industry. By splitting the film into two distinct perspectives, one of the officer and the other of Wang, the Chinese immigrant, he brings about a shared loneliness from both characters. Their longing for human connection and a sense of belonging is one that is universal. It is further emphasize through his subplot of land reclamation which ask a deeper question of how Singapore is actually a country made of immigrants. A question about the Singaporean identity that haunts us all. Yeo explores themes of loneliness and desperation in a way that shows how alienating it can be to the rest. By the end, we slowly lose our motivations and purpose, just like the characters in the film, mirroring the real life ups and downs of chasing the Singaporean dream. This is a film about the human condition, or more specifically the Singaporean condition. The noir-ish elements emulates the best of Martin Scorsese and Michael Mann while the dream like nature quickly takes over and you can see David Lynch taking over the wheel. Atmospheric and alluring, at almost every turn. "A Land Imagined" shifts into its heightened dream state halfway through the film. This is where the cinematography by DP Hideho Urata ramps up. His eye for poignant visuals provided a hypnotizing feel to strangely common settings such as our streetlamps, construction sites etc. Combined with the score, we sit through a journey which ranges from melancholic to trippy. The longing to become someone else, blends dreams and reality together as Wang and the police officer slowly mirrors one another. In almost a similar fashion to a Bi Gan ("Kaili Blues", "Long Day's Journey into Night") film, we shift away from the plot and fall down the endless pit with Yeo Siew Hua, getting lost into the allure of it all. Just like an immigrant being seduced into the glow of this beautiful country. It's amazing how much influence Yeo takes from Bi Gan, considering the fact that Luna Kwok worked with Bi Gan before on Kaili. Speaking of Luna Kwok, her character is definitely the stand out of the film. Almost falling into the realm of manic pixie dream girl territory, her character is similar to that of a Wong Kar Wai character, especially Faye Wong's character in "Chungking Express" but grittier. She has a spunk to her and provides a slightly disdain view of Singapore, yet she ties the two perspectives together as if almost knowing as much about the plot as the viewer, serving as our middleman. Better editing choices could make "A Land Imagined" a little more coherent and give viewers slightly more explanation. The tonal shifts throughout can be quite jarring especially from the cop perspective to the worker perspective and back to the cop. I appreciated the change in perspective for its unsettling vibes but it should have been made to be more uniform. A slight nitpick but score and sound mixing should really be toned down. It a little overpowering, especially during transitions and it could really take the viewers out of the film. Overall, "A Land Imagined" is not a film that Singaporeans may necessarily want but it is a film we need. A hauntingly important film that speaks about real societal issues the country faces and despite being mainly about foreigners, also highlights the issue of being part of the Singaporean Dream. Do yourself a favor and watch this, instead of the countless other false images other foreigners or even locals tend to paint a picture of Singapore, in their films.

    more
  • A bit too much art gets in the way of the story.

    S_Soma 2019-04-23

    If you like watching movies that seem to just naturally engender a sweaty, angst-y compulsion amongst reviewers to use words like insouciant, milieu, limns, palimpsest, liminal, peregrinations, and oneiric in a feverish attempt just to DESCRIBE them, then A LAND IMAGINED is just the movie for you; I would show examples of this, but URLs are a giant no-no here on IMDb which I found out the hard way. Ow. The plot seems simple enough and holds some promise. A Singaporean police detective, Lok, and his partner are investigating the disappearance of a Chinese migrant construction worker who works as part of the massive and never-ending "land reclamation" project in Singapore that's been ongoing since the 60s. This is no small task as countless thousands of migrant construction workers from many different nationalities, living and working in poorly documented and unequivocally exploitive circumstances, make locating any individual one a virtual impossibility. The land reclamation project has been ongoing for around half a century and has literally increased the total landmass of Singapore by slightly more than 20%, just to give you a scale of the project and the number of workers that must be involved. Structurally, the movie has two primary elements. First is a depiction of Lok and his investigation which opens the movie, and then we switch to a flashback account of the timeline and experiences of the disappeared Chinese migrant construction worker, Wang. When that account comes to a dramatic head, we return to Lok and his investigation and follow that through to the end of the movie. To be sure, A LAND IMAGINED does have much to recommend it. It does a stellar job of representing the miserable living and working circumstances and exploitation of the migrant construction workers. From a socio-political perspective, this is potential dynamite given the fact that it can't help but be ultra-critical of the political and commercial power structure in Singapore. Singapore is overwhelmingly dominated by the People's Action Party and makes regular use of defamation lawsuits to crush anyone embarrassingly critical of the PAP, its policies and programs. Nobody even pretends that the press is at all "free" in Singapore. You have to give the makers of A LAND IMAGINED serious points just for making the movie at all. One point that the movie hammers upon repeatedly is the fact that NOBODY really wants to know what happened to Wang. Troublemakers are not appreciated, let sleeping dogs lie and all that. We don't want to irritate the power structure. All of which, of course, left me wondering how did the police actually find out about the disappearance of Wang at all? Who would have reported it? The idea that a couple of police detectives would even be investigating the disappearance of Wang in the first place doesn't jive in any way with anything else we're led to believe about the environment in which the investigation is taking place. Who would have sent out a couple of police detectives to investigate something nobody wants to find out about? A LAND IMAGINED's execution of its desire to be "neo-noirish" AND surreal in a context of socio-political commentary render it mostly a large, confounding and tedious pill. The acting is good and the cinematography definitely captures a noir sensibility and an excellent representation of the unpleasant life realities of the primary characters, but it does so with so much top loading of stylistic balderdash one spends a lot of time looking for deep meaning that either isn't there or is impossible to sort out. It's just a bunch of stylistic posing. Do we really have to spend THAT much time staring point-blank at some actor's face which is itself staring at something else we can't see while we can't read their mind or the meaning of their blank expression? And exactly what was the contribution to the movie that we were supposed to glean from watching Lok's wiener boinging around as he runs stark naked on a treadmill? That we have no more control over our lives than a wiener boinging on a treadmill? Or something like that? If the writer and/or director had merely used their obviously significant skills to create a more comprehensible movie instead of portraying everyone drifting haphazardly and ephemerally from situation to situation it probably would've ended up being a pretty good movie. There's clearly lots of talent here, it's just sad that most of it is being misused to portray abstractions that contribute nothing to the movie but confusion. Certainly Lok's "investigation" was the most vague and noncommittal police investigation I've ever seen in a movie. He spends so much time staring blankly at everything (noirish emoting, I suppose) he didn't have time to do any actual investigating. I don't know... Perhaps the movie had to be so vague and ephemeral just to get it made in the context of Singaporean political realities. I rather hope so, because at least that would make sense.

    more

VidMate

Best Movie Music TVShow YouTube Downloader for Android