A Beautifully Shot Noir-Mystery
Split between two timelines, A Land Imagined is a heady, hedonistic noir-thriller with enough intrigue and drama to keep you glued until the end. While the film is a little slow at times and some may not take to the important social themes behind this one, there’s enough here to make for a really interesting and thought provoking picture nonetheless.
Set in the heart of Singapore, A Land Imagined sees a police investigator have to adapt to his surroundings as he goes on the hunt for a missing migrant worker called Wang. As he becomes acclimatized to Wang’s cocktail of late night gaming sessions, poor working conditions and overwhelming work schedule, we get to see this tale from both perspectives. As we learn the truth about what happened to Wang, the film ultimately transcends beyond that, bringing into play an interesting juxtaposition between classes with an overwhelming theme around loneliness echoed through both timelines.
While the story itself doesn’t offer much that hasn’t been seen before, it’s the execution of this one that makes it such an impressive offering. Armed with an eclectic Jazz and electronica soundtrack and reveling in its neon visuals, A Land Imagined is an unusual and grimy look at one of the world’s biggest cities. Whether it be the electric blue hue of a fish tank or blood reds from signs outside, every scene is composed with real thought and deliberation which makes every scene pop.
There’s quite a strong theme around migration and racism here too, with a lot of light being shed on poor working conditions and shady practices going on behind the scenes in companies. It makes for quite the uncomfortable watch too and I would imagine those from Singapore itself may find this a little difficult to watch at times.
If you can take to the story and don’t mind a slow-burn picture with a big message behind it, A Land Imagined is well worth watching. It’s a testament to Singapore cinema but whether Western audiences will appreciate this as much as other noir-detective stories remains to be seen. What we have here though is a really well written, absorbing story that transcends beyond the big screen to tell a bigger story and it works perfectly.