Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun
Cast: Chantavit Dhanasevi (Ter), Nitta Jirayungyurn (Mew)
Runtime: 2 hrs 12 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: http://www.fandaythemovie.com/web/
Opening Day: 27 October 2016
Synopsis: 'Denchai' (Ter – Chantavit) is a geeky 30-year-old IT officer whose existence is only acknowledged when his colleagues need tech support. He feels even more of an outcast every time his co-workers call on him for help and can’t even remember his name. Denchai’s mundane world is flipped upside down when he goes to fix a printer for a new girl in the Marketing department named 'Nui' (Mew – Nittha). Nui happens to get his name correct, making him feel valued once again. From that heartfelt moment, Denchai falls head over heels for Nui, but only admires her secretly from afar, since he wholeheartedly knows that Nui is completely out of his league. It’s not until one day when their company arranges a company trip to a ski resort in Hokkaido that Denchai finally takes a leap of faith by making a wish at the resort’s landmark Lucky ‘N Love Bell. Denchai’s wish is for Nui to be his girl for just ONE DAY. In an ironic twist of fate, Nui goes skiing alone and passes out in the snow. When she wakes up, she is diagnosed with TGA - a rare but temporary memory loss disorder, which lasts for just one day. Figuring that this is fate’s way of granting him his wish, Denchai decides to lie to his dream girl by telling her that he is her boyfriend and that they had plans to travel around Hokkaido together. Would you risk everything, no matter how impossible, whatever the outcome, just to be in love for just ONE DAY?
‘What if you could have one day with the girl of your dreams?’ That is the wish fulfilment teased by writer-director Banjong Pisanthanakun in ‘One Day’, in which 30-year-old IT nerd Denchai (Ter - Chantavit Dhanasevi) gets to live out his wish of simply having a day with the sweet and attractive marketing executive Nui (Mew - Nittha Jirayangyurn) while on a company trip in picturesque Hokkaido. Not only will they end up visiting iconic tourist attractions on the island including the Music Box Museum in Otaru, the ‘Valley of Hell’ in Noboribetsu, the Yunokawa Hot Spring in Hakodate and finally the Snow Festival in Sapporo, the unlikely couple will also find themselves falling in love with each other, with perhaps the only mystery being whether they can still find a way to be with each other for good at the end of that magical day – and we use ‘magical’ here metaphorically and not literally, since it is through a twist of events that leads Nui to suffer from a rare but true medical condition known as ‘transient global amnesia’ (‘TGA’) which creates that serendipitious opportunity for Denchai.
And yet that is only the ostensible premise of a romantic comedy that proves to be far more textured than what its official synopsis and trailer has revealed. In order so that his audience root for Denchai and Nui, Pisanthanakun devotes the first half of the movie to establishing Denchai’s circumstances, beginning with him at the company’s New Year party where he is not just the wallflower but has literally dressed himself to blend in with the brick wall behind him. That is indeed an appropriate representation of his lonely existence – the security guard at his company doesn’t recognise him even though he’s been there for several years; colleagues who do not remember his name; stallholders who cannot remember him or his usual order; an automated advertising message that serves as his only birthday greeting; and last but not least acquaintances who contact him only because they want to sell him some useless skincare products. Denchai proclaims the computer his best friend, because it does whatever he asks it to, whether to print, to save, or simply to delete.
Of every other non-IT employee in his company, Nui is the only one who remembers his name, and following a bit of spot involving some printing issues, Denchai starts to take notice of her – what time she comes to work daily, her routine at work, and even her favourite food (that happens to be ‘uni’ or sea urchin). Unfortunately, Nui is in love with no less than the tall, dashing and handsome company president Top (Tui - Teerapat Satjakul), who courts her with flowers at the carpark and asks her out for lunches. But perhaps the most significant gesture of his affection for Nui is bringing the whole company to Hokkaido – under the pretense of the annual company outing – so that she can finally visit the Snow Festival. And yet if that sounds a little suspicious, it is – yes, Top is in fact already married with a kid (though he promises Nui that intends to seek a divorce so that they can be together), which explains why the need to keep their romance a secret from the rest of the office as well as for a pretense to travel with her.
As fate would have it, not only does Top’s wife and kid turn up unexpectedly at the Kiroro Resort where the company is staying for the duration of the trip, she comes bearing news that she is pregnant with their second kid, a devastating piece of news which Nui happens to overhear. Instead of extending his stay with Nui, Top leaves her to travel onwards to Tokyo with his wife and kid, which only makes her feel even more depressed. In a moment of utter despair, she puts on her skiing gear and deliberately pushes herself off a cliff. All this while, Denchai watches her every step quietly and helplessly in the background, and it is he who triggers the search and rescue operation which conveys her unconscious to the hospital. In truth, it isn’t coincidence that she suffers from TGA that effectively blanks out her memory from before she joined the company, nor is it coincidence how Denchai ends up her only friend in a foreign land - though, for reasons that will only become clearer later on, Denchai assumes the role of Top and tells her that they have been dating for the past few years.
Opportunistic as it may have sounded at the start, Denchai’s only aim is to let her find happiness if only for just one day, with no illusions whatsoever about how that day may change the course of his life or for that matter make him any more attractive than he really is. And despite her initial apprehension, Nui slowly accepts Denchai as her boyfriend, with plenty of charming moments in between – like how Nui forces the incomprehensibly shy Denchai to look into her eyes, or Denchai’s mixing of fact and fiction when Nui asks how he had made her fall in love with him, or their enactment of ‘meet-cute’ encounters in the alley of a convenience store while waiting for a heavy snowstorm to subside. It is these moments that make the film pure enchantment, and we dare say possibly one of the most romantically delightful ones we’ve seen this year.
Yet that doesn’t mean one should therefore expect a ‘happily-ever-after’ – not only will die-hard romantics find themselves denied of such convenient gratification, it is likely that some will feel frustrated by the deliberately open ending (which cynics will say is simply intended to leave room for a sequel). Not that Pisanthanakun doesn’t prepare his audience for that upset; a late twist to that New Year company party intro explains just why Denchai does not try harder to make the happiness of that one day last a lifetime and even goes the extra mile to destroy what hope there may be of Nui recollecting that beautiful day once she recuperates from TGA the morning after. It is bittersweet no doubt, but an entirely befitting one when seen against the self-sacrificial ways in which Denchai was content to love Nui behind the scenes – going to work early so to save a parking lot for her, hacking into her farm game account to accumulate nails and wood for her, organising her messy desk after work, and looking up the names of the old songs she likes but could never figure out their titles.
All great romances rest on the chemistry of the lead actors, and ‘One Day’ is no different. Ter is completely believable as the socially withdrawn Denchai, whereas Mew slips in effortlessly – in no small part due to her natural good looks – into the role of Nui. Next to each other, Ter and Mew share an easy unaffected rapport that carries the film from being awkward strangers at the start to kindred souls at the end of the titular day. Though it may seem as mere wish fulfilment at the start, ‘One Day’ ends up asking a much more profound question of how we love. Do we need to hold on to the ones we love? Or are we content to let them find their own happiness? At slightly over two hours, it may run a little longer than it should, but ‘One Day’ is engaging from start to finish – romantic in parts, funny at others, but most of all winning throughout.
(You will laugh, you will cry, and you'll be swept away by love - 'One Day' is romantic, amusing, moving and thoroughly winning)
Review by Gabriel Chong