JWR Articles: Web Series - People Like Us (Director/Writer: Leon Cheo) - February 28, 2017

People Like Us

3.5 3.5
48 min.

It works both ways

Director-writer Leon Cheo’s web series (6x8-minute episodes) is an appealing look at gay life in Singapore. Its title rings true both as the obvious interpretation (an honest recounting of the four principal men’s quest for acceptance and love) and subtler notion that, indeed it is hard not to like any of them.

Late bloomer and elder statesman Isaac (Steven Lim very comfortable in his near-Daddy skin) says it all: “Sometimes I think people like us will be looking, seeking and finding…”

Leading the fray is Joel (Josh Crowe’s infectious smile lights up screens big and small) who knows the pain of being dumped but remains hopeful that Mr. Right instead of Mr. Right Now will be looking for more than a quick roll in the hay.

New date, Ridzwan (quietly portrayed by Irfan Kashban), seems to fit the bill but a broken condom quickly douses the initial passion and threatens to scuttle any possible future together—yet it’s difficult imagining any serious “looking” man with only a single rubber in his bedside drawer. This character also represents countless thousands who live in fear that their family, friends and co-workers will discover their sexuality and fail to realize that—in most cases—they already know but choose to remain silent. 

Playing Rai—whose quest leads him down unexpected paths and into first-time situations (notably a no-holds-barred sex party), Hemant Ashoka amiably navigates a variety of situations, but might, just might have met his match, should his current interest quit making up for lost time, following the end of a marriage of convenience.

Cinematographer Looi Wan Ping effectively captures the action ranging from high-energy clubs (Taboo is featured: pounding music tracks such as “Give It Up” work well with the dancing and themes) to street scenes, through a few between-the-sheets encounters. The sex is barely R-rated with some of the loudest kisses yet heard, but there’s just enough eye candy on offer to keep all viewers engaged.

Cheo has also managed to end each segment with a line (“Call me”, “Maybe we should do this another time”) or image that should entice viewers to watch the next installment. The frequent use of on-screen texting also contributes to the pace.

Few will go away disappointed from this production and many others will hope that Cheo gets the opportunity to produce a full-length feature along the same lines and continue developing his craft. JWR

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Director/Writer - Leon Cheo
Cinematography - Looi Wan Ping
Production Design - Daniel Lim
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