As You Were


The island of Saint John is separated from Singapore by a stretch of sea; it hosts a rehab center for troubled youths. One of them, fed up with the steely discipline and hard work, escapes by swimming to the city: above him, the night sky is illuminated by neon lights and fireworks. Guohui and Peiling meet on the island after years of being apart; their love, which dates back to their childhood, is still strong. But their relationship is undermined by Peiling’s insecurity. Years later, Rachel, a singer looking for some peace, goes to the island: she meets Guohui and their lives intersect. And the ghost of Peiling appears once more.


Young Man

Jerome Chee


Eshley Gao


Josh Lai


Cheryl Tan


Written, Edited and Directed by

Liao Jiekai


Gladys Ng

Voice-over Writer

Chiang Wei Liang

Produced by

Leon Cheo,
Tan Bee Thiam

Director of Photography

Looi Wan Ping

Production Designer

Vivien Koh,
Tan Jing Liang,
Chris Yeo

Sound Recordist

Sorayos Prapapan


Vivien Koh,
Tan Bee Thiam

Music Composer

Matt Kelly

Re-recording Mixer & Supervising Sound Editor

Lim Ting Li

Foley Engineer

Filipe Paszkiewicz

Additional Foley

Peter Warnock


Nuttacha Khajornkiatsakul


Original title

As You Were

International Title

As You Were


96 min / Colour

Aspect Ratio


Screening Format



5.1 Surround Sound,

Year of Release



Mandarin, English



Country of production


Production Company

13 Little Pictures

“Much more interesting, at least in terms of forms of expression, is the second feature of the Singaporean Liao Jiekai, As You Were. Discovered in 2010 with Red Dragonflies, Liao revisited issues of memory and the perception of the weight of the past in the relations between people. In particular, As You Were, built in three sections that oscillate between past and present, embroider on the crisis of a relationship, where the memory of a loving childhood sweetheart does not match the misunderstanding of this. There is something Antonioni about Liao’s approach – unfathomable alienation of his character. All this, however, is filtered through an aesthetic approach (deconstruction and fragmentation of the line of the story, elegant composition of the painting, minimal dialogues, layered sound) owing its influence to recognizably contemporary Asian Masters (from Hou, Koreeda, through Weerasethakul), including the attempt to entrench the discomfort of the protagonists in the connective tissue of the socio-political Singaporean – although presumably using the obliquity and metaphor. The result is perhaps too cerebral to move, but Liao is certainly a director to keep an eye on.”
– Paolo Bertolin

“The title As You Were'' brilliantly combines two main plots of the movie as the director, Liao Jiekai, focuses on (the) duality of it’s meaning and usage. It indicates the nostalgic yearning for (a) bond that used to be strong between two people yet it dissolved in time. On the other hand it refers to the notion of discipline, being subjected to the orders given by the institution or the superiors. In As You Were, that sense of imprisonment, either emotional or physical, is shown in an honest and personal way.”
– Maja Korbecka

After living in America for three years, I returned to Singapore only to find a different city from the one in which I grew up. Nostalgia has always been part of a natural reaction towards a place with a disappearing past. In this film, I chose to use romance as the vehicle for a story of change - I want to tell the story of two lovers who had to part because they no longer understand each other. Hearts have changed and memories have been displaced.

Water is often used as a symbol of change. But for me, it is the constant that unites the various moments in the film, from the childhood heartlands to the metropolitan city of Singapore - the water in the swimming pools where the lovers first learned to swim as children, the water they used to separate stamps from envelopes, the water in the sea that separates Singapore and the island. And finally the water that keeps them afloat but also pulls them under.

Part of the film is set on St. John’s Island, a tiny island south of mainland Singapore with an oppressive past (it was at various points in modern history, a quarantine center, a penal colony and a drug rehabilitation center). The fictional narrative of a uniformed group living on the island was inspired by the past and hints at a state where every citizen is conditioned to be a patriot. This is a state where behaviors and ideologies are manufactured, and those who think otherwise are frowned upon.



Tokyo International Film Festival 2014


Torino Film Festival 2014


Nantes Festival Des 3 Continents 2014
Singapore International Film Festival 2014
CAAMfest 2015
Singapore Chinese Film Festival 2015
Cinémathèque Française 2015

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© 13 Little Pictures