“There is no room for God here,” claims one of the survivors of Singapore’s 1997 financial crisis in writer-director Anthony Chen’s promising debut film, “Ilo Ilo.”
Indeed, there’s not much room for a conventional family to breathe. Dad is an inept salesman and a secret smoker. Mom is a bit of a tyrant. Their 10-year-old son causes discipline problems at school. And their new maid makes desperate phone calls.
What they don’t need is more trouble, and they get it in spades. Dad loses his job and hides the fact from workaholic Mom. The maid and the son witness a suicide, and she nearly gets arrested for shoplifting.
But characters who may seem hopeless begin to suggest a vulnerable side, and none truly deserve the situations that afflict them. The boy is clearly motivated by the loss of a favorite grandparent. The parents find themselves acting out passive-aggressive patterns.
- Marymoor Park concerts: Full lineup announced
- Capitol Hill light-rail station nearly ready for trains to rumble
- Nelson Cruz's home run in ninth inning lifts Mariners to sweep of Rays
- Historically black Central District could be less than 10% black in a decade
- They were millionaires for 3 months, but Seattle couple didn't know it
Most Read Stories
Koh Jia Ler is a standout as the rebel child, and Angeli Bayani, as the maid, subtly handles her growing understanding of him. Yeo Yann Yann and Chen Tianwen are always credible as the much-tested parents.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org