Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.
Should you watch this at weekend movie tickets prices? If you caught the first film, or if you like Singapore history.
Secret ending? No, but the credits are interesting to watch.
Running time: 121 minutes (~2 hours)
“Long Long Time Ago 2 (我们的故事 2)” is a Singaporean historical drama about the 70’s, and the sequel to February’s “Long Long Time Ago (我们的故事).” It revolves around widow Zhao Di’s efforts to keep her family together in a rapidly changing Singapore. It stars Aileen Tan (Zhao Di), Mark Lee (Ah Kun), Wang Lei (Fourth Uncle), Suhaimi Yusof (Osman), Ryan Lian (Ah Long), Benjamin Tan (Ah Xi), Yan Li Xuan (Su Ting), Ng Suan Loi (Ah Ma), Silvarajoo Prakasam (Shamugen), Charmaine Sei (Ah Feng), Bharathi Rani (Rani), and Nurijah Sahat (Fatimah). It is rated PG-13.
It’s inevitable that you’ll compare “Long Long Time Ago 2 (我们的故事 2)” to its predecessor, since they’re released just months apart. It’s a decent film, but it’s not as good as the first installment, which is odd because it doesn’t have the unenviable task of setting up the exposition and premise of the film. Much of it is due to how the story plays out, as it doesn’t provide the proper cathartic resolution to the many conflicts that arise in the film.
Compelling family drama
It’s rare to find a family drama that doesn’t revolve around a romance, doomed or otherwise. The tension in “Long Long Time Ago 2 (我们的故事 2)” comes from sibling rivalry instead of star-crossed lovers, which makes it more relatable to the audience. Despite it being set in a time period far removed from our own, it still deals with issues and emotions that every Singaporean family can understand. This strikes a chord, since the conflicts hit so close to home.
Exploration of interracial marriage
It’s a daring move to show the initial disapproval of the interracial romance in the film, as well as the obstacles that the lovers face in getting their families to understand their relationship. The film also shows us the very real issue of birth control, which is a major contributing factor to their marriage. It might not be an in-depth exploration, and the couple overcomes their obstacles pretty easily, but it’s still a refreshing take on relationships in Singapore.
Too many characters and plots to keep track of
The sprawling cast and changing forms of address make it difficult to keep track of all the characters, especially when the children start playing larger roles. Plot-wise, “Long Long Time Ago 2 (我们的故事 2)” follows up on setups that were presented in the first film, and also spins new storylines of its own. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the length to resolve all of these plots satisfactorily, making it rather obvious that those plot elements were dropped for time.
Blatant product placement
When the shots are so strategically framed to ensure that you can clearly read the brand labels on the props, it distracts you from the purpose of the scene. It’s acceptable if the products are in the background, or at the very least, part of a larger set of props. But when every character carries the same brand of tonic to give to their friends, carried such that the brand name is prominently facing the character, the commercialism is just painful.
The film ends on a lackluster note. It’s a downer, and what’s worse is that it leaves several relationships hanging and the antagonist unpunished. Instead, you get a half-hearted reform and a very upsetting fate for one of the protagonists. The main characters don’t have to be invincible and immortal, but there’s almost no victory for them in the film’s end. It’s not a poignant finale to the film, but a sad closure to a nostalgic era.
“Long Long Time Ago 2 (我们的故事 2)” drops the ball when it comes to concluding the story of the previous film, although it’s still an OK film for Singaporean history buffs.
“Long Long Time Ago 2 (我们的故事 2)” opens in cinemas 31 March, 2016 (Thursday).