Five heartwarming local films to watch on Netflix

Netflix and chill, with a local twist!

Sitoh Shanice

Dances in her free time and can also lick her elbow.

Published: 24 June 2021, 5:27 PM

Growing up, I always enjoyed watching local films as it evokes a sense of familiarity.

Where many of my peers preferred blockbuster Hollywood films, I often found myself enjoying Singapore films instead as it reminded me of my childhood, sitting with my family in the living room with snacks watching movies for our movie night. 

The blend of dialects in local films makes it even more special as it represents the culture of Singapore. The jokes are also easy to understand and plots are relatable to Singapore life. 

With Netflix adding more local films into its stable, here are five heartwarming local films to watch on Netflix.


Director Anthony Chen’s debut film from 2013 is a movie that many Singaporeans might find relatable. 

Set during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the film focuses on the bond between nine-year-old Jiale (played by Koh Jia Ler) and the foreign domestic worker who takes care of him, Teresa (Angeli Bayani). 

At first, Jiale shows dislike for Teressa and purposely makes her life miserable. But as time goes by, the bond between them strengthens and gains jealousy from Jiale’s mother, who sees Teresa becoming the boy’s “new mother”.

Jiale and Teresa’s bond might be familiar to many Singaporeans who have had a domestic helper taking care of them during their younger days while their parents worked hard to put food on the table.


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Due to the financial crisis affecting the family, Jiale’s parents realise that they cannot afford to hire Teressa anymore, and Jiale desperately tries to keep her. PHOTO CREDIT: ILO ILO


The film was also the first Singapore feature film to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival, when it was awarded the Caméra d’Or Award, or Golden Camera, in 2013.

2. Taxi! Taxi!

Based on the book Diary Of A Taxi Driver, the 2013 film follows two fathers, Microbiologist Professor Chua See Kiat (Gurmit Singh) and taxi driver Ah Tau (Mark Lee). 

After being retrenched as microbiology scientist and many failed attempts of getting a job, Professor Chua resorts to being a taxi driver to support his family.  Despite having opposite personalities and educational levels, they become friends as they find similarities with themselves as they are trying their best to provide for the family.


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In the film, both Professor Chua and Ab Tau get entangled in situations and embark on a journey of self-discovery. PHOTO CREDIT: TAXI! TAXI!


It is a touching movie that inspires anyone who has been at the lowest point of their lives and to not give up and pick themselves up after falling.

3. Just Follow Law

Just Follow Law is a 2007 film where a blue-collar technician Lim Teng Zui (Gurmit Singh) and a senior manager Tanya Chew (Fann Wong) swap souls after an accident and soon experience each other’s struggles.

In the beginning of the film, Teng Zui and Tanya did not get along and were head to head as their morales were polar opposites. 

After swapping souls and experiencing each other’s lifestyles, they start to appreciate the obstacles and challenges faced in their respective roles in the company.


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Teng Zui was a more relaxed and spontaneous person while Tanya was uptight and always followed rules without any exceptions. PHOTO CREDIT: JUST FOLLOW LAW


With comedy inserted seamlessly in the film, the movie shows the importance of family and the need to be flexible when the situations call for it.

4. Already Famous

Already famous is a 2011 film written and directed by Michelle Chong, who also starred as Ah Kiao. 

Ah Kiao is a villager from Yong Peng, Malaysia who loves watching soap operas and dreams of being an actress. She travels to Singapore to chase her dreams despite her mother and brother’s approval to pursue acting. 

However, upon arrival in Singapore, she faces plenty of challenges to achieve her dream and ends up working as a salesgirl to make ends meet. Refusing to give up, Ah Kiao eventually achieves her dream.


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Ah Kiao is met with the harsh and fake reality of showbiz as she struggles to make it big. PHOTO CREDIT: ALREADY FAMOUS


The movie is relatable as it touches on many of the hardships that people go through and the failures to emerge as winners, or achieving your dreams.

5. That Girl in Pinafore

That Girl in Pinafore is a 2013 coming of age musical film set in 1993. It stars Jiaming, played by Daren Tan and May, played by Julie Tan. 

Throughout the film, Jiaming, May and their group of friends get closer over time as they find ways to bring back Jiaming’s parents’ karaoke bar.

Jiaming and May soon start to fall in love but this is deeply disapproved of by May’s mother. She feels that Jiaming is not capable enough for May as she looks down on his education and economic status.


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The two start dating secretly behind May’s mother’s back in hopes of them working out in the end. PHOTO CREDIT: THAT GIRL IN PINAFORE


That Girl in Pinafore explores plots like the harsh realities of growing up and the difficulties of following your heart in the face of societal expectations.

The film features original and revamped songs sung by the cast and gives the audience a sense of nostalgia if they lived through the 1990s.

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