Romantic road-trip flick is one bumpy ride
3 PEAS IN A POD (NC16)
UNIVERSITY student Penny (Singapore newbie Jae Liew) is on tenterhooks as she takes a deep breath before looking at her examination-result slip.
Much like the young leading lady in a scene from the movie 3 Peas In A Pod, Singapore actress-turned-director Michelle Chong must be anticipating the reception to her second feature film with bated breath.
After all, the 36-year-old's latest film has much to live up to after the success of her directorial debut, Already Famous, in 2011.
The love story of an entangled trio in 3 Peas unfolds over the course of a road trip in Australia.
However, Chong's sophomore film turns out to be a rather bumpy ride. This is especially so when the plot takes an abrupt, miscalculated turn towards the end that leaves viewers bewildered.
Still, one must give credit to Chong for a different take from the light-hearted Already Famous.
Veering from the local flavour of her first movie, Chong went international in 3 Peas by filming in Australia, casting actors of diverse nationalities and going with a universally identifiable love story.
The international elements serve as a double-edged sword that has worked against and for the movie.
The plot plays out in classic youth-romance fashion, where the three leads - Peter, Penny and Perry - are caught in a love triangle.
Singaporean student Penny has her eyes on rich Korean stud Peter (former Korean boy band U-Kiss member Alexander Lee Eusebio).
Completing the triangle is soft-spoken Taiwanese A-star student Perry (Calvin Chen of Mandopop group Fahrenheit), who seems to have a thing for Penny.
Casting Lee and Chen as the film's leading men was a good move to rope in their respective fanbases.
Audiences will surely be able to feel the angst of young love in the film.
But the universal spirit of the home-grown movie is one that is all too familiar and reminiscent of other coming-of-age flicks such as China's So Young (2013) and Taiwan's Girlfriend, Boyfriend (2012).
The greatest takeaway from the international fare is the idyllic setting of the road trip.
The $1.7-million movie offers the audience a visual spectacle of Australia's breathtaking scenery, from the azure skies over The Great Ocean Road to sunrise over Prospect Hill.
That is probably the film's saving grace from a tried-and-tested formula.