Movie reviews: Ramen Teh, I Can Only Imagine
RAMEN TEH (PG)
Takumi Saito is the star of Eric Khoo's new ode to Singapore's rich culinary heritage.
The Japanese actor evokes natural, raw emotion as the troubled Masato, who embarks on a spontaneous trip from Japan to Singapore to rekindle his connection to the country where his late mother (Jeanette Aw) came from and where he spent his childhood.
I can see why Khoo chose food to convey the story of a man whose allegiance is torn between two separate cultures.
For a country built by immigrants from different cultures, cuisine is probably the part of our culture that provides the strongest sense of belonging, the most visceral source of collective nostalgia.
But Ramen Teh could certainly do with less heavy-handed explanations of our national dishes. I understand the need to appeal to international audiences, but this removes focus from its plot.
Still, Saito's presence is as essential to the film as pork ribs are to bak kut teh - it simply would not have stood without his soul-stirring performance. - ETHAN LEUNG
I CAN ONLY IMAGINE (PG)
This biopic on the hit 2001 Christian song of the same name is a sentimental movie that was a sleeper hit at the US box office.
J. Michael Finley(above) puts in a sterling performance as the rock band MercyMe's frontman Bart Millard. He is convincing as a heartbroken man who finds God after he has hit rock bottom.
Finley is at his best during the musical numbers, when he can showcase the full range of his vocals as a former Broadway performer.
This is nowhere more evident than in the scene where he belts out the title song, perfectly articulating the pain that Millard has felt his entire life but has never been able to admit.
However, some moments in the movie, such as when Millard finds the inspiration to pen down the track, are vague and feel a little too convenient.
Dennis Quaid is excellent as Millard's obnoxious father who eventually reconciles with his son.
I Can Only Imagine is a timely release for this Easter, delicately balancing the need to bring out the importance of forgiveness without being too evangelical. - LUCAS WONG