Be With Me

Be With Me

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Be With Me

The film comes with a choice of English or Chinese subtitles, as well as an optional audio description for the partially sighted - the latter seeming especially pertinent for a project inspired in part by a blind woman, even if Theresa Chan, being deaf too, would not be able to benefit from it herself.

Though advertised as a "director's commentary", the voice-over features not only director/writer Eric Khoo, but also his co-writer Wong Kim Hoh, as well as drop-in contributions from composers Kevin Mathews and Christine Sham, editor Low Hwee Ling, executive producer Freddie Yeo, producer Brian Hong and sound designer Kazz. In it we learn, inter alia, that the film's title originally came from a Brian Wilson lyric, and that his album Smile (glimpsed briefly in one scene) was often playing on-set to establish the film's tone; that Theresa Chan can, in fact, type 100 words per minute, and had to slow down considerably for the purposes of the film; that her autobiography, unpublished by her own choice, is some 380 pages in length; and that Khoo and Wong had been working on their script about love, hope and destiny for several years before they chanced to meet Chan and decided to incorporate her story into their own.

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The 20-minute making-of featurette comprises the usual on-set footage and interviews with cast and crew, but the participation of Chan makes it clear that there was nothing ordinary about the production itself. Khoo had to communicate with his leading lady through a special finger-tapping sign language, and took full advantage of the inexpensiveness of digital film to shoot her at great length in her home environment (later culling the footage in the editing room). At the featurette's end, we catch a brief glimpse of Khoo and company at Cannes 2005, where their film opened the Directors' Fortnight.

There are eight entirely disposable minutes of rehearsal footage, showing the cast clowning around during some of the more intimate scenes – and last but not least there is an excellent 21-minute interview with Khoo, in which he reveals that his initial idea had been to make an entirely silent film, until he chose instead to focus on different types of communication. The film, we learn, was shot in a mere two weeks on High Definition video. The first cut was about two hours in length, but when an informal test screening put some of the director's family members to sleep, he decided to edit out about half an hour's worth of material. Chan, Khoo adds, loved the experience of appearing in the film, and next wants to star in a comedy.

Reviewed on: 20 Mar 2007
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Be With Me packshot
Disparate stories from Singapore on themes of unrequited love and blind courage.
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Product Code: PPD123

Region: 2

Ratio: 16x9 anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0

Extras: Director's commentary, interview with director, audio description for the partially sighted, Making-of featurette, rehearsal footage

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