An opus to love – so fragile, so elusive

There are few things as refreshing to the creative’s soul than to meet a fellow artistic explorer. I met one such kindred spirit in Edmund Yeo, also known as The Great Swifty. Last year, he made a series of short films which all won awards – testament to his talent and ingenuity.

An ex-colleague of mine was rather disdainful about Edmund, saying that he thought far too highly of himself.

He obviously didn’t get Edmund at all. He’s a funny soul, who is often misunderstood. If only they could see past the hilarious fascetiousness on his blog and see the sensitive soul with a gift and love for narrative.

Doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally want to smack him. But anyway, the whole point of this blogpost is not to pimp him out but to review Kingyo, my favourite of all the shorts he made last year.

Edmund is studying film in Japan right now and worked on an adaptation of Nobel Laureate Yasunari Kawabata’s 1924 short story, Canaries.

Kingyo doesn’t mean ‘canaries’ in Japan, mind you, but goldfish. There’s a funny story behind that. He sent me the treatment and initial script for the film. I liked it but when it came to a bit where poor canaries would be subjected to some not-very-nice things, I protested.

(No spoilers, I promise)

“Do you really want to _____ the poor canaries?” I said.

“Hmm.”

So he substituted goldfish instead.

On with the review. Kingyo is a love story of sorts, of two ex-lovers who meet in Tokyo. One is a middle-aged university professor, another his former student who is working part-time as an Akihabara maid. For those unfamiliar with Japanese culture, Akihibara maids aren’t real maids – they just dress up like one to please their customers who get a kick out of going around town with a hot chick in a maid outfit.

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Edmund got rather experimental using a split-screen technique throughout the film. It was murder to edit, he told me, but the end result was worth it.

The split-screens became a metaphor of the former lovers – to be so close and yet so far. To be together and yet not together. The separation and distance between them they could not bridge.

Another theme that runs through the play is how sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until it is lost to you forever. Kingyo is a bittersweet tale of love found and love lost. Bittersweet, poetic and very tastefully done.

Kingyo was shown at the Venice film festival to a very appreciative audience. You can also read another review of Kingyo here.

What I like about Edmund as a filmmaker is his love for narrative. He’s very much about story and not so much the arty-farty filmmaker who prefer to give audiences a headache as opposed to entertaining them or telling a story. The latter kind always piss me off.

His talent will definitely see him through in the next few years and the next short he’s coming up with is rather dark, but if it’s anywhere as good as his last films, I can hardly wait.

Kingyo’s a film I heartily recommend and though it’s short, it leaves quite the impression.

It got me a little depressed thinking about love. Must we only appreciate something once it’s lost to us forever? Why must someone walk away before you realise the space he/she leaves behind is so hard to fill?

I think perhaps some people commit suicide because they know that they’ll never be thought about as much, appreciated or loved when they’re alive as much as when they’re dead.

Which is such a tragic shame.

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