My Magic (2008)

Director: Eric Khoo
Plot: A single dad looks to give up drinking and his bartender job in order to impress his son and find work as a magician.

Genre: Drama
Awards: Nom. for Golden Palm (Cannes Film Festival)
Runtime: 75min
Rating: NC16 for coarse language and some disturbing images.



One of the pioneers of the 'Singapore New Wave', Eric Khoo's films has been a shining beacon in a local film industry that is anything but bright. Since his debut feature film Mee Pok Man, Khoo has been on the ascent, directing critical hits in 12 Storeys and Be With Me. His latest movie, My Magic, makes history as the first film from the tiny nation to competitively participate in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. It is also Singapore's official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category.

Filmed mostly in Tamil together with bits of Hokkien dialect, My Magic is a tale of a father-son bonding and on theme
s of love and loss. The two central roles (father and son) are portrayed by Francis Bosco and Jathisweran respectively. Bosco is a professional magician in real life, thus he brings authenticity to a role that requires him to perform spontaneous tricks and endure physical strain at the same time. His natural performance is matched by Jathisweran's whose display of youthful innocence and maturity is also aptly captured.

My Magic contains several scenes that are likely to provoke an audience reaction. Viewers will witness live acts (no optical tricks or special effects) of gut-wrenching displays such as glass-eating, fire-eating, and holy mackerel, tongue-piercing! While these scenes are integral to the film's narrative, its explicitness in execution is both unsettling and disturbing. The unexpected fantasy ending is clearly a special-effects shot, and although it appears to be a fitting end to the film, it is perhaps too cheesy for most tastes, thus providing less satisfaction than it could h
ave been.

Eric Khoo's direction is consistently strong. The major letdown is the film's all too familiar premise, the predictability in its presentation, and its sluggish pacing. My Magic is overrated (some will disagree with me on this) and despite receiving a standing ovation in
Cannes, it is not necessarily an excellent picture. In a year of numerous local offerings, My Magic should have been the cream of the crop. Instead, it is consigned to the ranks of the run-of-the-mill.

SCORE: 6.5/10

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