Keng Teck (Chen) and Hwee Leng (Yeo), a middle-class Singaporean couple, hire a Filipina immigrant Teresa (Bayani) as a maid and nanny for their mischievous son Jiale (Koh). Over time, Teresa wins the troubled boy over with her quiet strength and patience, but her bond with him then starts to threaten the pregnant Hwee Leng. When Keng Teck loses his job, the family’s financial security crumbles, and Teresa’s future is in jeopardy.
Set during the Asian financial crisis of 1997, Chen’s first feature blends the personal with the political to form an unexpectedly heartbreaking narrative. Limning the class and social tensions between immigrant caregivers and working mothers, the Singaporean filmmaker draws on his own life to tell a minutely observed tale of maternal love and guilt. The cast is excellent, with Bayani standing out as a proud, diligent woman who has left her own child to care for someone else’s. Winner of the Camera D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, this emotional drama marks an exciting debut.