TAY PING HUI
QI YU WU structs the PEACOCK FLUFF
DANCE the Can-Can with EELYN KOK
THE FAMILY COURT 走进走出 SINGAPORE DRAMA REVIEW
With this Chinese title 走进走出 “SAUNTERING IN, WALKING OUT” virtually screaming out for attention, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d better hurry, lest there could be an impending traffic jam.
But NO, this is not the case.
We have competitive lawyers snarling and furiously fighting their civil cases in court, hours later the scene shifts to a pub where they gather for friendly, frivolous banters.
Life’s like this, when you dwell on the unreal.
Which is what THE FAMILY COURT is all about.
Forget corporate fights.
This drama is laced with family disputes aplenty:
Estranged mother suing lawyer son then perished miserably when she was knocked down by a running car (accident or murder most foul?), deranged masochistic husband sexually abusing wife, a frustrated housewife fighting custody of her only son, legal comrades taking bosom buddy to court, swearing in one paradoxical bated breath, “We are your close friends, you know?”
More …. our lead actor recklessly impregnated a young gal during his youth and is now punishing himself in a second life as a doting single father.
That was a teenage past conveniently thrown in to fuel another sub-plot – that of an old forsaken love and nursing a piping new one.
Yeah, THE FAMILY COURT reveals that friends are for daily wear and tear, for clubbing on sunshine days, and then unceremoniously taking them to court, when winter beckons.
What are friends for, really?
If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
Not only that, lovers are for utilizing.
Love them dearly when you need them today.
Then trample and discard them tomorrow.
That’s the nutshell plot of THE FAMILY COURT, glaring in your face.
YES, Nothing is What It Seems. (English tagline)
Surely not. (guffaw).
NOW, LET’S SETTLE OUT-OF-COURT:
TAY PING HUI puts in a commendable performance over a well-worn, predictable script that meanders over the obligations of being a righteous man as well as being a dutiful father to a bright youngish daughter. In court, out of court, he stays impossibly squeaky clean.
QI YU WU is an otherwise charming, roguish lawyer with a materialistic slant who will stop at nothing to achieve his selfish aims.
His is a case of rags to riches (mind you, his mother is a Geylang prostitute) and to him, life is one precarious “I earn it!” daredevil running treadmill.
Really, why shouldn’t he?
Why can't you leave him alone to climb his ladder of success?
EELYN plays the affable follower-type lawyer who believes that love maketh the world go round. She pursues love relentlessly and her focus seems to be anything but the law books.
CHRIS TONG, an upcoming Malaysian actress who’s currently in virtually every Malaysian drama, has a comely role as a tough lawyer with guts and grit.
She is basking in the glory of being MALAYSIAN CHINESE DRAMA QUEEN.
CHRIS may be lovely to gawk at, but she clearly lacks the alluring charisma of fellow Malaysian actress JESSICA LIU.
Her acting is passable and would have garnered better praises, if she has been styled more like a lawyer than as a polished newscaster.
Now, it is the SUPPORTING ACTRESSES that take center stage, giving the leads a run for their money.
Lovely ONG AI LENG excels as a desperado housewife who’s facing a nasty divorce and wants to keep her son. Watch her as she rants and tears dramatically in a surprising role seldom seen before.
HONG HUI FANG as a demeaning, fading prostitute who’s out to get a “piece of her own son” before her life eclipses.
And yes, lovely ANN KOK, she’s really wonderful, despite several scenes where she tends to overact when she breaks into hysterics.
Don’t you ever learn that it may not be necessary to wince and squint those many expressions to milk sympathy from your viewers?
Take a good look at KARA HUI.
Her screen time is brief in her award winning art house feature AT THE END OF DAYBREAK.
It is THAT only one rotund scene ….. a bedazzled faraway stare that bowled over regional judges and won her seven BEST ACTRESS AWARDS at the major Asian film festivals recently.
Less is MORE.
Yeah, THE FAMILY COURT is a much more comfortable, watchable drama than UNRIDDLE.
At least to this Reviewer.
It’d have helped if the four lead characters are given more depth, more emotive character development.
Especially that of QI YU WU’s and HONG HUI FANG’s characters.
Theirs can be said to be the highlight of the entire drama,
but this particular section is nipped peremptorily in the bud, even before it can take flight.
What would you have done if you have your one foot stuck in and two feet protruding in the rut?
This is one fine oxymoron that I am also seeking the answer.