Conceptually intriguing, Tiong Bahru Social Club is a heightened satire about modern societies' obsession with empiricism that deploys a tone rooted more in light-hearted inquiry than pointed social critique, A story of modernity's pursuit at quantifying human happiness, Tiong Bahru Social Club is a warm-hearted comedy uninterested in derision, focusing its aims on exhibiting the lovely absurdity that is human emotion. Featuring tepid pacing and a plot that struggles to earn its 80+ min run-time, Tiong Bahru Social Club doesn't always work, but it does provide a handful of great moments that resonate, both philosophically and emotionally. An aesthetic rooted in vibrant pop pastiche reminiscent of the work of Wes Anderson, Tiong Bahru Social Club visually expresses our attempt at crafting happiness through exteriority, and along with its precise, often symmetrical framing, the visual design deployed here perfectly elicits its themes related to modernity's flawed attempts at quantifying happiness through computation and quantification instead of accepting its intangible nature of human emotion. The pursuit of happiness and the complexities of human nature and psychology are not finite or static but in a perpetual state of motion. As our principal character traverses this social club promising happiness it becomes increasingly clear - despite our best-laid plans to craft utopia through empiricism, we can never pinpoint the endless multitude of factors that define something as imperfect but incalculable as happiness.
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