Three in twisted love triangle

(From left) Alexander Lee Eusebio, Jae Liew and Calvin Chen

Review Romance Drama

3 PEAS IN A POD (NC16)

DURATION: 90 minutes RATING: 2/5 Opens on 14th November

The story: Singaporean Penny (Jae Liew), Korean Peter (Alexander Lee Eusebio) and Taiwanese Perry (Calvin Chen) are schoolmates at an Australian university who decide to take a road trip together just before graduation. With Penny in love with Peter and Perry having a soft spot for Penny, things eventually come to a head during the journey and no one is left unscathed.

The trailers for 3 Peas In A Pod largely suggest a light-hearted romantic comedy. There is a classic love triangle in which the object of one's affection is eyeing someone else and the scenario plays out with humour and some choice dramatic moments.

It is a reasonable expectation especially since writer-director Michelle Chong's debut film Already Famous (2011) was also a light-hearted comedy.

While kudos are due Chong for not treading the same path here, Peas ends up being terribly convoluted in a way that is utterly frustrating instead of clever and satisfying.

In the final act of the film, revelations come tumbling out that cast everything that happened before in a different light. When done well, as in the supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense (1999), such reversals make you want to rewatch the film.

Unfortunately, here, it just feels as though the earlier part of the movie was just one giant sleight of hand, a deliberate act of misdirection.

It did not help that Peter was a self-absorbed, self-serving and possibly manic depressive chap who treats Penny (newcomer Jae Liew) as a doormat and is constantly telling his friends to "speaka Engrishi". And Perry is largely a cipher until the very end. These are not exactly roles to warm to.

A graduation road trip is a momentous occasion, poised as it is between the world of school and friends and the working adult life to come. But while the characters mouth words to that effect, the impact is not quite there.

The supposed simmering desire is also handled in an oddly chaste fashion. If it is a road trip movie with an honest exploration of attraction and sexuality that you are looking for, try Mexican drama Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) instead.

The casting for 3 Peas was off too.

Alexander Lee Eusebio, though a former member of K-pop boyband U-Kiss, is unconvincing as swoonworthy hunk Peter. In fact, Taiwanese boyband Fahrenheit member Calvin Chen, playing Perry, was clearly more buff. This made a scene in which the other two are surprised by Perry's physique seem downright silly.

And fans hoping to see Chong in action as an actress will have to be content with a cameo of her as a hotel staff with a thick Aussie twang.

The big winner here would have to be Tourism Australia, which gets a feature-length advertisement packed with postcard-perfect sun-drenched vistas.

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