2 Best Movies to Watch by Anthony Chen

Staff & contributors

At the height of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, a small Singaporean family scrambles to keep their middle-class status afloat. The parents shave their expenses and work extra-long hours, but their busyness causes them to neglect their misbehaved son. When his misdemeanors prove to be too much, the mother is forced to hire a stay-at-home nanny, and her presence (along with other external pressures) brings about a change in the house. Suddenly, everyone becomes a bit more aware of their limitations and potential, and from this, a shared empathy grows. In other hands, this story might come off as bare and forgettable, but under first-time-feature director Anthony Chen’s helm, Ilo Ilo comes to life in rich detail, thoughtful shots, and captivatingly natural performances. Despite its many heartbreaking scenes, the film rarely dwells in sentiment, and it's this restraint that makes Ilo Ilo all the more gripping to watch. 

Genre: Drama, Family

Actor: Angeli Bayani, Chen Tian Wen, Chen Tianwen, Jialer Koh, Jo Kukathas, Koh Jia Ler, Peter Wee, Stephanie Kiong, Tian Wen Chen, Yann Yann Yeo, Yeo Yann Yann

Director: Anthony Chen

Rating: Not Rated, PG-13

When travelling to another place, another city, another town, there’s a certain anonymity that frees one’s self. No one knows who you are, so you’re not expected to maintain a certain personality, and that can be necessary for young people trying to find their way. The Breaking Ice shows this in a fairly sentimental way, juxtaposing the wintry, snowy landscape with the warm but fleeting connection forming between three lonely adults, but there’s just something honest in the way the three try to hide but still share the same youthful ennui, even if they come from vastly different backgrounds. The Breaking Ice might not be daring enough to delve into the queer aspect of this trio, but it’s still a lovely, well-crafted drama contemplating the youth’s melancholy.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Liu Baisha, Liu Haoran, Qu Chuxiao, Ruguang Wei, Zhao Wenhao, Zhou Dongyu

Director: Anthony Chen