MIFF #8: The opening scenes of My Magic made me wonder whether I’d be spending half the film with my eyes squeezed shut. An enormously overweight man (who reminded me of my nightmarish ex-boss – argh!) sat at a bar alone and kept asking for his liquor glass to be topped up. When the bartender refused to serve him any longer, he roared with anger then broke the glass with his teeth and crunched it up in his mouth like ice!
Francis is a former magician (played by Bosco Francis, a real magician) who is now drunkard and neglectful single father. Shamed by his son’s stoicness (doe-eyed Jathishweran) and their decrepit living quarters, Francis decides to return to magic to earn money for his son’s education. His quest to earn more money leads to him agreeing to cruel and unusual torture at the hands of sadistic mafia henchmen, leading to tragic consequences.
There were many squirm-worthy moments in this Singaporean film, including the swallowing of razorblades, piercing skin with spikes and having darts thrown into flesh. However, I’m glad I stayed for the whole film. The ending was beautifully poignant and Francis redeems himself at the end. Plus the sweaty, dirty and dingy patina of the film was far removed from the sanitised scenery of Singapore that I’d encountered, and as I left the cinema I wondered how Singaporean audiences reacted to their country and countrymen being depicted in this way.