A widower in Singapore, grieving for his late wife, has promised to scatter her ashes on the beach before sundown.
But his plans are interrupted by a young police officer, who has no choice to intervene and arrest the old man for not having a permit.
The encounter sparks a strange journey through Singapore’s bureacracy, as well as an unlikely friendship between the young man and the grieving senior that offers compassion and some solace during a difficult moment in life.
Written by Su Ching Teh and directed by Taj Jenkins Musco, this short drama juxtaposes a gentle satire on Singaporean society with a portrait of an unusual sudden friendship that develops between generations.
Shot in luminous black and white, the cinematography lends an elegiac, old-fashioned air that progresses to an almost surreal, dreamlike quality as the characters journey from the lovely beach to the strange “Ministry of Death.”
The film is grounded by a set of subtle and strong performances. The elderly roles were played by non-actors, but their faces are richly evocative of experience. As the film progresses, the interaction between the widower and the officer keeps the audience rooted in the human realities of grief and connection, even as the film descends subtly into surrealism laced with comic moments, in a style influenced by great European modernist filmmakers like Michelangelo Antonioni.
The result is an unusual, poetic and sometimes oddly funny meditation on the tenuous state of human existence, and the ways the world is both hostile to human emotion, and the connections that make it just a bit more bearable in the end.