Old Romances

"Old places are like old lovers to me, you never forget them," says director Royston Tan. In this sequel to the documentary Old Places, Tan takes us on a fond outing to experience Singapore through the recollections of everyday citizens. Instead of monuments of high culture or touristic clichés, Old Romances focuses on vernacular sites that have deep meaning for the locals, the Carnival Beauty Salon, the Moh Chan Cake House, the Kovan Coffeeshop, and many others. Old Romances constitutes a quasi act of preservation, sustaining not so much the sites themselves as the trove of memories attached to them. With Old Places, made in 2010, Tan saw the literal disappearance of many valued Singaporean gathering places. Old Romances became an attempt to capture this fleeting culture: “I realized that every twenty years or so, Singapore does a major renovation. A very big facelift . . . There are no traces of my history.” Old Romances is like a big smooch on the cheek of Singapore past.

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