Competition: “My Magic” by Eric Khoo

Julia Brechler

My Magic, screening in Competition, is a second occasion for the Festival de Cannes to welcome Eric Khoo, after Twelve Storeys, which was selected by Un Certain Regard in 1997. My Magic speaks of love, filial bonds, redemption, and… magic. “It’s certainly my most personal film,” explains the Singaporean director. “I am a dad myself and for the longest time, I’ve wanted to do a movie about a father and son, the obstacles in their relationship and how they get together despite the difficulties.”

Eric Khoo read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a tale of the tribulations of a father and son, survivors in a post-apocalyptic world. It inspired him with the theme of the film, which he finished writing in a matter of days. Khoo created the character Francis, a man who has been at the end of his rope since his wife left him. His ten-year-old son manages alone, but criticizes his father for letting himself go. Out of love for his son, Francis decides to take up his old trade as a magician again.

Regarding directing the actors, Eric Khoo recalls: “I wanted them to establish a rapport and to be comfortable with each other. They were fantastic. Jathis [the son] was a godsend, he was so natural. Bosco [the father], meanwhile, was my ‘Rock of Gibraltar’. Many of the stunts he performed in the movie are real. Bosco wouldn’t have it any other way. We had to shoot most of them in one take because I couldn’t afford to have him injured. In fact, we wrapped the shoot in just nine days. The cast and crew were just so good. They ran with me… I always wanted this film to be a small, sensitive project. I didn’t want to go big and be extravagant with the execution. I wanted it to be intimate, personal, and subtle.”