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BE WITH ME

Directed by Eric Khoo
  • YEAR 4 - FILM 9 / 
  • Singapore / 
  • 2005 / 
  • Cantonese, Hokkien & Mandarin with English subtitles / 
  • 93 min
TRAILER
BE WITH ME DVD & Online Streaming
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DVD $12.95 $9.95
Stream $2.99
Non-Member Pricing
DVD $19.95 $14.95
Stream $3.99
"A delicately crafted, gently inflected, lovely little movie about the need for love."
– Michael Wilmington, The Chicago Tribune
"Ms. Chan is an indomitable life force and charismatic screen presence."
– Stephen Holden, The New York Times
"Dazzlingly hypnotic, tender and sensual!"
– Jen Johans, Film Intuition

Synopsis

Be With Me is a tapestry of three stories woven around the themes of love, hope, tragedy and redemption. Although the main characters come from different backgrounds and lead different lives, they are bound by one common desire – to be with the one they love. Unbeknownst to them, these different souls will share the same stage in a play written by Fate.

Editorial Reviews

A.O. Scott and MANOHLA DARGIS kept a diary about their experience at Cannes. Manohla Dargis wrote the following entry:

Meanwhile, I went to my first screening at the Directors Fortnight, one of the two unofficial programs here. Despite the near-lack of air conditioning, the ringing cell phones and the two biddies in front of me who pawed through their plastic bags throughout the screening (I kicked one of their chairs a couple of times, but apparently not hard enough), I fell for the Fortnight's opening film, Be With Me. It's from a Singaporean, Eric Khoo, and interweaves the true story of a deaf-mute woman with tales of thwarted love. I didn't have any idea what was going on for the first half hour, but was in tears by the end, which is fairly rare (big surprise).

--Manohla Dargis/ The New York Times - Review

By Michael Wilmington

Theresa Chan is a 61-year-old Asian woman who has been blind since 14 and deaf since 12. She's also the main harbinger of hope in "Be With Me," a delicately crafted, gently inflected, lovely little movie about the need for love, directed and co-written by Singapore's Eric Khoo ("Mee Pok Man").

Singapore has a tiny film industry, and Khoo is definitely its star filmmaker. He works in the minimal, exquisite vein of Taiwan's Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang, and if he's not on their artistic level, he's not far below it. Two of his three films played at the Cannes Film Festival, and "Be With Me" was a critical hit there last year.

It deserved to be. Khoo interweaves three stories. Two of them are fictional studies of unrequited love and despair, focusing respectively on two teenage lesbian lovers, Sam (Samantha Tan) and Jackie (Ezann Lee), and on a plump security guard, Fatty (Seet Keng Yew), who is infatuated with a career woman.

The third tale involves the real-life Chan, who might seem to have every reason for suffering along with the others; in addition to her deafness and blindness, her one great love died of cancer before they could be wed. But she chooses instead to be optimistic, giving, hopeful. Love, she conclusively proves, can be more blessedly given than received.

Khoo uses very little dialogue, letting his largely nonprofessional cast communicate instead through quiet looks, sparse talk, cell phone text massages and typewritten messages (by Chan). The quietness of "Be With Me" -- and its extreme tenderness and vulnerability -- are unusual qualities in contemporary cinema. Yet Khoo, in only his third film, already seems a master of this finely honed Bressonian style.

The center of the film, and the reason for much of its power, is Chan, a chunky energetic woman who speaks in a loud, lively, very expressive voice that she herself can't hear. Few people, real or fictional, in recent cinema convey such a sense of wholehearted connection to life. Inspiringly, she demonstrates unselfish love -- even as the rest of the film shows us the consequences of more self-centered kinds.

--Michael Wilmington/ Chicago Tribune - Review

May 13, 2005

By Duane Byrge

Our notions of love are smudged with the false romance of beautiful people in commercials and the "soul mate" folderol that the media deluge us with. So sophisticated modern-day audiences may likely be initially mystified by this intelligent look at love through three very different relationships.

The opening-night film of the Directors' Fornight, "Be With Me" develops slowly, almost painfully so, but those mature viewers who stay with it will embrace a mature and stirring glimpse of "true love" in one of its three vignettes. Not likely to transpose commercially to U.S. select-site audiences, "Be With Me" should continue to woo international festival audiences with its keen illuminations on love.

Inspired by the autobiography of Theresa Chan, a 61-year-old deaf and blind woman, the film is almost silent: In two of its vignettes, the "lovers" connect only through the Internet or cell phone text, and in the third segment its lovers are a deaf and blind woman and an old man who is nearly mute. Indeed, this Singapore film is most eloquent in its look -- the sterility of the cell phone metropolis of modern-day life -- and its lack of dialogue is emblematic of the missed communications in these relationships. Most passionately, the love that slowly erupts between the old man and the blind and deaf woman resounds in the strength of its silent tenderness.

Two of the three vignettes are pat and, well, rather trite and off-putting: A sluggish, 37-year-old security guard obsesses over a teenage coquette, and a waifish lesbian essentially stalks the same lithe Lolita. Both segments are creepy and, alas, trashy. Yet, filmmaker Eric Khoo transcends the sordid glop of these two demi-vignettes with his third love yarn, a wondrously unlikely eruption of love between a depressed old store owner and a blind and deaf woman. It is wonderfully unlikely and wholly natural, all at once in large part because of the natural performances of Chiew Sung Ching as the old man and Theresa Chan playing herself as the deaf-blind woman.

As a filmmaker, Khoo is most accomplished in his visualizations rather than his scripting. In this regard, he is greatly assisted by the compositions and colorings of cinematographer Adrian Tan. Present-day Singapore is scoped in its shimmering modernity with a "Metropolis"-like squint, and Tan's subdued colorizations further clue us to the darkness as well as the less obvious hues of love.

--Duane Byrge/ The Hollywood Reporter - Review

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Customer Reviews


Ellen - Customer Review
I found this a beautiful and unsettling film; I'm still thinking of it days later. The story at first seems to have little narrative structure; if you're patient, though, you'll see how the threads quickly and intriguingly tie together at the end.


Jeff in Seattle - Customer Review


Larry - Customer Review
This is a real piece of garbage from a wannabe arty-farty person trying to be a film director. Eric Khoo has no sense of what a story should be. This movie deserves a negative rating for wasting people's time.

Photos

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BE WITH ME Movie Photo
Lynn Poh
BE WITH ME Movie Photo
Chiew Sung Ching
BE WITH ME Movie Photo
Ezann Lee
BE WITH ME Movie Photo
Theresa Poh Lin Chan
BE WITH ME Movie Photo
Seet Keng Yew
BE WITH ME Movie Photo
Samantha Tan
BE WITH ME Movie Photo
Be With Me poster (hi res)
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