A scene from "You Mean the World to Me".
Sunny is a Malaysian filmmaker who returns to his hometown of Penang to shoot a film about his family. Facing financial challenges to get the film made, Sunny is confronted by the truth of his family and siblings and learns to accept the past.
Director Saw Teong Hin
"You Mean the World to Me" is arguably one of the more important Malaysian films to be seen in 2017 as it has so much heart and soul put into it to be what "The Journey" or "Ola Bola" did for 2015 and 2016.
Here are our five reasons why you should watch "You Mean the World to Me" which is currently showing in cinemas nationwide right now!
Director Saw Teong Hin should be no stranger to Malaysian cinema, having being in charge of major productions from the eternal "Puteri Gunung Ledang", to famous hits in "Hoore! Hoore!" and packed the stadium with "Jejak Warriors". Adapted from his own play, "You Mean the World to Me" is something of a much smaller scale but much closer to his heart. Based on his estranged relationship to his late mother, "You Mean the World to Me" is a heartfelt dedication by Saw to her, and an apology for all the things he has done to her. If there was any Malaysian director we wanted to see put out his own 'voice' for the first time, it would be Saw and "You Mean the World to Me" had it coming for a long time.
Fully Hokkien movie
When pitching for a studio to produce this project, Saw was told that they would make the movie on the condition that the dialogue be spoken in Mandarin instead. Saw was insistent on preserving his mother tongue, northern Hokkien, because it was important for it to deliver the little nuances of the dialect. While not every Malaysian is a native Hokkien speaker, the subtitles would be sufficient enough to get the message across, and we truly applaud Saw for staying closer to the authenticity of the story he wanted to tell.
For a touching story that is fused with regret and redemption, it requires some heavy lifters in the acting department. That demand is certainly met with its tremendous cast, leading off with Malaysian-born actress Yeo Yann Yann, best known as the Golden Horse winner in "Ilo Ilo". Filling in the role of the mother is Singapore's Neo Swee Lin, otherwise known as the grandmother from the "Phua Chung Kang" TV series, in a far more serious role. The rest of the family will be played by local talents, Frederick Lee and Greey Koay as the adult and younger selfs of the main character, and Chelsia Ng and John Tan as the other siblings.
To feel a heartfelt message on film is to be able to read the language of film, so cinematographic visuals are not merely just putting things in front of the camera. A cinematographer's job is to translate the visions of a director and the stories he wants to tell through the power of visuals, composition, lights, colours and movement. "You Mean the World to Me" is so fortunate to have cinematographer Christopher Doyle to work on the camera that we are so curious to see how such a world renown cinematographer looks at Malaysian sights through his eyes. Doyle should need no introduction, but his composition work for the most respected directors like Wong Kar Wai and Zhang Yimou are some of the landmarks of modern cinematography to this day.
The Penang film
Of course, not even the greatest cinematography can do much if the quality of the set doesn't match up to it, and this is once again where "You Mean the World to Me" aims to deliver. With a significant portion of the film set in Penang during the 1970s, the production design team has put dedicated efforts to rebuild the family home that Saw reminisces about. The attention to detail on the locations, the props and the costume should sent Penangites of that generation to a familiar place and they would finally have a piece of film that they could always go back to see how the good old days were like.
Cinema Online, 05 May 2017