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Once Upon a Time

Directed by S. SANJAY

We love cherishing moments that please us and tends to forget the bitter ones, but it’s the time that unlike us treats every moment equally. It’s just some objects or a familiar face that takes us down the memory lane making us nostalgic.

Once Upon a Time was written and directed by S. Sanjay. This fictional drama is about a young man named Ryan who suddenly stops by his ancestral home to pay a visit where he spent his early days with his grandfather Lee after the untimely demise of his parents.

From the title of the movie till the last closing scene, we see the Watch playing a pivotal yet a silent role beside the lead actors in the drama. We see how Ryan (played by Jason SimHwee) soon upon entering in, greeted warmly by a lovely lady who is presently staying there. In this scene, we see Ryan and the lady bonds on their connection to this home and him recalling some fond memories that have changed the course of his normal childhood.

From their sweet banter, we discovered that Ryan was only eight when he was left only with his grandfather who raised him since then. We see how each artifact in the room including a watch seems to hold a very special place in Ryan’s heart and the lady’s gesture to him unveils her emotional side who believes in keeping certain things as it is.

In one such scene during their conversation, the director uses a watch picked by the lead to take us back to that fateful night through a time loop. We are introduced to a heart-wrenching scene where little Ryan broke down in pain in the hospital when was informed about his parent’s death. Here we were also introduced to Ryan’s compassionate and caring grandpa who was equally broken but hid his pain for comforting little Ryan.

The director brilliantly tried to create an emotional bond in the entire movie with an ancestral watch that was passed down in the protagonist’s family and hence hold the utmost importance in Ryan’s life. As an audience, I find the young Ryan played by Phang Yu Xian to be quite promising and expressive without uttering a single word.

While watching the movie you will realize that the story is quite close to the creator’s heart and also teaches us valuing moments before they become memories. Perfectly complementing the theme of this artwork, we see a watch gracing the movie title to the last scene leaving us in an emotional state.

Interestingly, what amuses me is the closing scene when Ryan unbuckles a wristwatch and left it with the other old items. This particular scene seals the fact that Ryan is also somewhat like the lady who isn’t so fond of cleaning out old things. Here we realized that Ryan is impressed with the gesture of the humble lady and hence decided to leave behind something very close to him to her custody.

With his storytelling, the director has tried to weave into the audience’s mind that every moment needs to be cherished as some aren’t just sweet memories but also life lessons. In the present times when families and connections fall apart like the house of cards due to mere misunderstandings, there are some objects which can bind us together for a lifetime and more. The two watches in the movie are exactly doing the same thing of holding precious memories for Ryan to cherish forever.

The movie is made to tickle the suppress emotion in you, will make you cry and may also make you call your loved ones instantly. The only thing that keeps me wondering is what makes Ryan left his precious watch in his old home? Maybe it’s his trust towards the lady but as an audience, I believe that the watch was the only thing he was possessing as a memoir from his grandfather.

Based on my experience I will rate the movie 3.5/5. I love the amalgamation of emotions throughout the entire movie. Every actor has perfectly played their part with special mention of the child playing Ryan being adorably expressive.


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