Royston Tan’s first feature provides a fascinating window to a world rarely depicted onscreen: the angst-ridden arena of adolescent boys in modern-day Singapore. If that weren’t fascinating enough, Tan shows us this cosmos from the inside out: employing music, montage, animation, fantasy, a multiple layering of video elements and a host of narrative styles to portray the frenetic, tortuous, but strangely beautiful world shared by a group of 15-year-olds whose only emotional connection to the world is through each other.

The film introduces us to Wynn, Melvin, Erick, Shaun and Armani. Residents of a public housing project who also attend school together, they have dealt for so long with outsider status, disaffected parents and bleak futures that they now manifest a cold, ironic distance from the world – posing as emotionless drones who cannot be defeated, nor even touched. As modern, consumerist culture races by them, and they are beset by parents and teachers with verbal abuse and ridicule, the boys form a tight, if complicated, bond between themselves; a brotherhood whose code allows the shedding of blood, perhaps, but never tears. Skipping school, doing drugs, rehearsing gang raps, piercing and ritually cutting their bodies, on the surface the boys form a bleak picture of ennui and hopelessness – even encouraging one another’s not-infrequent suicide threats (as an ironic echo to the discordant strains that fill their eras on a daily basis.) But Tan is very attentive to the underlying intimacy of the boys’ shared suffering, and the need each one eventually shows to be close to someone – whether in a game of rapid-fire insults, or in a late-night embrace, out of the sight of others. In time, the boys display not only a wickedly satirical outlook on their dilemmas as young people in an unsupportive society, but also show some of the best traits of human nature: patience, caring, forgiveness, loyalty, courage, and a willingness to be vulnerable to one another.


Whether moments of transcendence are enough to redeem the world for these oppressed boys remains an open question – a credit to Tan, who declines to moralize about his subjects, or to idly speculate about their likely fates. His highly stylized film (sketching his characters’ inner lives with a stylistic hybrid drawn from music videos, advertising and video games), concentrates on depicting a not-too-hypothetical present with no escape in sight, not even necessarily in the future. Still, in the midst of this elaborate production with its alarming suggestions, a stirring portrait of human striving emerges that is as striking and unforgettable as its director’s amazing stylistic flair. 15 is a brave and unique depiction of young lives pitted against a hostile world, and often giving back better than the world deserves.

A completely f***ed up film!  Think Clockwork Orange (on acid), meets Black Moon meets Emperor Tomato Ketchup meets Larry Clark’s Kids….but more insane.  Beautifully shot with artistic merit, this film is for the serious coming of age film collector with a passion for screwed up films! – Azov Films

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The fact that director Royston Tan had to make 27 cut to satisfy the Singapore Board of Film Censors inspired him to make the short film Cut – which is extremely funny, don’t miss this one! ;)


22 thoughts on “15”

  1. I’m stunned. Thank you for this hint, I just got to see it, when I can find it anywhere in english/german/french.
    I know I’m a pessimist, but unofrtunately I’m mostly right…, I really want to believe, that this movie is deep and brilliant enough to be compared with “A Clockwork Orange” (the best film ever made, btw.).

    The movie’s title annoys me, how should I find this movie with this title.. *sigh*

  2. I can’t find the torrent either. I tried searching for “15” (waaay too many search results), and also “Fifteen”, and umpteen other combinations. No luck. :(

    Help anyone?

  3. 15 is really great, but his later feature film 4:30 also shouldn’t be missed:

    “4:30″ traces the relationship between Xiao Wu, an eleven year old Chinese Boy and his tenant Jung, a thirty-something Korean man. Told entirely from the perspective of the boy, Xiao Wu, this story of two very different characters is less about friendship than about a shared experience and appreciation of solitude. “4:30″ starts with Xiao sneaking to the room of Jung in the early hours of the morning, and stealing from the Korean man. Just as getting intoxicated is a habit for Jung, who only staggers back to his rented room when drunk, soon stealing for Xiao Wu becomes equally as compulsive. We soon realize that Jung’s true intention for staying in Singapore is suicide. It is only through Xiao’s encounter with Jung failing in his bid to die that he begins to understand his true fascination with Jung. “

  4. Torrance says:
    October 25th, 2008 at 04:06

    I can’t find the torrent either. I tried searching for “15″ (waaay too many search results), and also “Fifteen”, and umpteen other combinations. No luck. :(

    it seems there just isn’t any active torrent of this film. Happens with small independent asian productions.
    Are you familiar with eMule/aMule/eDokey? Because you will find it there, I just checked. You just need to be more patient to download with this program.

  5. Thanx nellouise! i will be checking this out. Thanx also to kollio, I will be checking out “4:30″ for sure!!!!!

  6. Although they tend to be pretty tough on smuggling drugs, same sex sex is generally more accepted than overhere in the so called free west..
    Judging by the trailer it indeed looks like a intriging movie , long live torrents..

  7. Starboy: now I don’t know where you live, but gay sex is so unaccepted that it’s illegal in Singapore (not that Singapore is a democracy, but I don’t think the public is more liberal than ruling elite in PAP).

    Josh: thanks. =)

  8. Thank you for uploading the movie, Josh!

    For anyone else, the password for the rar files is “milkboys” (took me a couple of guesses).

  9. OMG, yes, sorry! I thought I did it without a pass but forgot that it’s set with this password per default, screw me xD

  10. Just in case you are willing to keep world economics going :-), or to help those poor independent gay bookshops with milkboy-friendly attitude, or just in case you have any uploading problems: 15 is out on DVD (in GB, mandarin with english subtitles) and should be available, f.e. in Stuttgart´s Erlkoenig and other gay bookshops

  11. hehehe… nice one :)

    What I find a shame though is that they won’t play this in any of the arthouse theatres here, and of course finding a torrent of something called ’15’ is impossible… :(

  12. After watching “Cut”, I like this director, a lot. What the censors are doing might as well be taking a sharpie to every piece of writing with mature situations.

  13. I’m gonna watch this =)

    By the way…

    @Jerrad: Can you tell us where didi you find it? lol…

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