Xinyao film hits soft spot for nostalgia

Xinyao film hits soft spot for nostalgia

SINGAPORE - Growing up listening to cassette tapes and chatting to friends over landline phones, there's something nostalgic and oh so familiar about local film That Girl In Pinafore.

The coming-of-age flick set in the 1990s follows the musical and romantic pursuits of a group of students.

Tinged with a distinctive Singapore flavour, it conjures up memories of good ol' school days, like flocking to Changi Airport to mug for exams.

Yet, the movie feels all too familiar with its archetypal boy-meets-girl plot, portrayed by 17-year-olds Jia Ming (played by actor-singer Daren Tan) and May (played by Julie Tan).

Sold as an ode to the xinyao era - the heyday of local Mandarin songs in the 1980s - it's a pity the narrative veers off course with too much focus on the teenage lovers in the second half of the film.

Still, music fans can get their dose of xinyao ditties with the likes of Xi Shui Chang Liu (Friends Forever), Xin Kong Xia (Starry Sky) and Yi Bu Yi Bu Lai (One Step At A Time).

Listen out for the refreshing take on oldies like 1980s drama theme song Li Ming De Xin, by xinyao pioneer composer Liang Wern Fook.

The song's contemporary makeover - infused with catchy drum beats and guitar sounds, and the young cast's vocals - had me hitting the replay button a few times.

Scriptwriter Violet Lai also keeps the film current by adding a line that takes a dig at a certain South Korean idol group's name.

Movies depicting the growing years like That Girl In Pinafore aren't original. Think box-office hits such as Taiwan's You Are The Apple Of My Eye (2011) and China's So Young, which was released this year.

Perhaps there's a simple reason that the genre is a hit among audiences - it hits their soft spot for nostalgia.

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