Movie Review: Wet Season (热带雨)

Those schoolboy days
Of telling tales
And bonking the teacher…

Chauvinism is alive and well in Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen/陳哲藝’s (ILO ILO) sophomore effort, WET SEASON.

Malaysian-born Ling (Malaysian actress Yeo Yann Yann/楊雁雁, ILO ILO) is a Mandarin teacher at a Singapore secondary school where both she and her subject are undervalued by her colleagues and her students alike. (Really? Here in Hong Kong, our silly government ministers would be falling over each other to heap praise on her.) To add to her woes, she’s been trying to have a baby with her husband for a number of years but now the scumbag just doesn’t have his head in the game anymore. Even worse is that she has to look after his invalid father while he “plays golf”. Being the dedicated teacher she is though, she takes a shining to Kok Wei Lun (Koh Jia Ler, the boy in ILO ILO), a latch key student who is more interested in wushu than his studies, offering him remedial tuition… for free, of course, because that’s the kind of person she is. As the weeks pass with each afternoon monsoon shower, the two lonely hearts grow closer as they believe they can satisfy each other’s unspoken and unfulfilled needs.

Oh my. Sadly, WET SEASON is completely predictable after the first five minutes and audiences are left waiting for what feels like an eternity for the inevitable to happen. Even worse, when it does, there is no reckoning to be had. As the film closes, Ling seems quite happy about her situation but in the real world, she’d definitely lose her job, lose her teaching career and probably go to jail. Then there’s Wei Lun who basically raped his teacher. What must that do to his head? Unfortunately, unless Chen is planning on making a sequel, we’ll never know. Chen tries to make Ling a sympathetic character, perhaps even going as far as implying that because she’s a foreigner she has to ensure such abuse in Singapore’s patriarchal and classist society but let’s be honest — she’s a predator. I’ll say it again: Oh my.

Maybe I’m old school because critics are generally liking this film. WET SEASON was nominated for six Golden Horse Awards last November with Yeo picking up the statuette for Best Leading Actress. The film premiered last September at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been mostly playing the festival circuit. It’s opening commercially here today. I did not like this story at all but I appear to be in the minority.

Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, June 5th, 8:30 am HK time!

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