Mad About English (2008)

Director:  Lian Pek
Plot:  The film follows the inspiring and heart-warming efforts of a city preparing to host the world by learning a once-forbidden tongue.

Genre:  Documentary
Awards:  -
Runtime:  82min
Rating:  PG


Mad About English is one of two local documentaries showing in theaters this early August, with the other being A Month of Hungry Ghosts.  This month will feature a small bundle of homegrown works which includes Jack Neo's Money No Enough 2, the two abovementioned documentaries, the highly anticipated Royston Tan musical 12 Lotus, and a sport documentary entitled Kallang Roar.

 It is by no coincidence that most of these films are released during the month of our nation's birthday because I believe that since the turn of the century, Singapore cinema has been slowly and steadily achieving an international following, and this is worth celebrating. 

Mad About English is filmed mostly in
Beijing, China.  Its director Lian Pek captures the perseverance and commitment of the Chinese to learning the English language so that they are able to serve their nation when their country hosts the Olympics.  The film does not follow a fixed structure.  Instead, it is best described as a varied mixture of different scenes edited to a quick pace. 

The points of reference in the film are a cab driver, a Western 'grammar cop', an old female physician, an aged male volunteer, and a teacher-motivator.  Viewers will get to see how these people are coping with learning a new language, especially in their sunset years.  Their ability to speak good and basic English is indeed a remarkable and inspiring thing

Mad About English unfortunately suffers from a sub-standard production.  It looks more like a film student's project than one that comes out of a professional studio.  It is slightly unpolished and would have been more appealing with a decent creative makeover.  Thankfully, there’s enough satiable content to digest which is essential in a genre like this. 

Communication is very important, and it is especially crucial when we are meeting people from a foreign land.  That's not all.  Our body language and facial expression are also decisive in determining a person's image and attitude.  Lian Pek's film boldly discusses these pointers, packaging it in a documentary that is both engaging and hilarious.  Pity about the quality of the production though.


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