Director: Paween Purijitpanya, Adisorn Tresirikasem, Jira Maligool
Cast: Cris Horwang, Jirayu La-ongmanee, Nichkhun Horvejkul, Suquan Bulakul, Sunny Suwanmethanont, Suthatta Udomslip
Runtime: 2 hrs 23 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 6 September 2012
Synopsis: Beginning with "14" by Paween Purijitpanya (Director of Phobia 2), this is the love story of Puan (Jirayu La-ongmanee) and "Milk" (Sutatta Udomslip). Their love will never be the same once Puan changes his Facebook's status to "In A Relationship" and starts to incessantly post clips proclaiming his love towards Milk. For Puan, each and every moment and emotion for Milk is conveyed with each upload. There are so many comments from nosy people that the total views reach almost viral levels. Puan becomes very obsessed with this online world filled with strangers and as a result his girlfriend's love for him fades with every "Like" click on his Facebook's wall.
Next is "28" by Adisorn Tresirikasem (Director of BTS - Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story) - a story of how two former superstars who starred in a critically acclaimed film together deals with their emotions as their careers go downhill experiencing failure in finances and fame. All they have to hold on to is their one-hit-wonder movie. Now, the actress Mam (Cris Horwang), who is 28 years old, is struggling to get back in front of the camera again. The chance arrives when the studio announces plans to make a sequel to their hit movie. Both Mam and Jon (Sunny Suwanmethanont) will get a chance to be stars on the big screen again. However, John has long left the movie scene becoming a caretaker of aquatic animals in an aquarium. Mam will have to make her way to find John, who was once handsome, but is now a vulgar overweight man who drinks a lot of beer.
And the last story is "42.195" by award-winning Director Jira Maligool (Director of Mekhong Full Moon Party, and The Tin Mine) which conceptualizes the parallels of life and running a marathon. The human life's mileage is not much different from the kilometer sign that shows the distance of the marathon. The story is about "SHE" (Suquan Bulakul) a 42 years old newsreader whose life changes and transitions to a whole new chapter once she meets "HE" (Nichkhun 2PM), a young marathon runner who invites her to join the Bangkok Marathon race. Her life will never be the same again.
Happy birthday, GMM Tai Hub! You turn seven this year, and we hope that we will get to celebrate your seventieth! From 2004, you’ve been bringing us some of the most crowd-pleasing Thai movies we’ve seen in recent years, and from time to time we find ourselves looking back fondly at the innocent charm of ‘Fan Chan’ (aka ‘My Girl’), the possibilities of everyday romance in ‘Bangkok Traffic Love Story’, the quirky love-in-a-foreign-land experience of ‘Hello Stranger’ and of course the hilarity of workplace romances in ‘ATM’.
It is in this vein of urban rom-coms that you’ve decided to celebrate your birthday with us, in the form of the anthology ‘Seven Something’, itself a celebration of love at different stages of life. The idea here is that a person’s life undergoes a significant change every seven years, and to illustrate the modern-day love and life challenges that people of different ages go through, you have selected three directors to craft three different stories with their own unique appeal. Inspired was your decision to arrange them in chronological sequence, such that from one story to the next, there is a growing sense of maturity to both the stories and their underlying themes.
First off is the high school romance ’14 Likes’ by horror director Paween Purijitpanya, better known for his work on ‘Phobia 2’. Despite being a newbie to the genre, Paween’s segment is easily the most accessible of the three. More than just a typical first love between teenagers Puan (Suckseed’s Jirayu La-ongmanee) and Milk (Sutatta Udomslip), it is a sharp reflection of the social nature of today’s dating scene where every thought, emotion, location and deed is shared and commented by friends and acquaintances. Puan’s the consummate social animal, and while Milk does indulge him whenever he wants to take a picture or video of them while on their dates, there comes a point when the more conservative Milk decides to take a firm stand on their privacy.
It’s not hard to see where Paween is going – how much of our lives do we share with others, and how much do we keep for ourselves? Such questions are especially pertinent for the younger generation born and bred on a diet of interconnected media devices, and Paween brings out the issues of the phenomenon of ‘social dating’ without moralising at all. Instead, he lets them emerge naturally through both plot and character – though he does employ a fair bit of stylistic visual devices to keep his viewer engaged.
‘14’ also boasts two utterly winsome performances by Jirayu and Sutatta, who share genuine chemistry with each other. They are sweet but never cloying, and despite their subsequent disagreements, you’ll root for the both of them to get back together. Noteworthy too is that this segment boasts a cute sequence drawn from ‘Fan Chan’ that has its child characters gossiping about a fellow classmate on their way to school, the same sequence used in this movie to illustrate schoolyard gossip as well – albeit with voices dubbed over by the characters here.
Left on a bittersweet note, we are led into ‘21/28’ from ‘BTS’ director Adisorn Tresirikasem. The premise here is just as simple – seven years after their box-office hit ‘Sea You’, one half of the reel turned real life celebrity couple Mam (Cris Horwang) tries to persuade her now former other half Jon (Sunny Suwanmethanont) to reunite on the sequel ‘Sea You 2’. Whereas ‘14’ took a crack at social media, ‘21/28’ sharply observes the youth-obsessed showbiz industry where producers are constantly on the lookout for fresh and more importantly young talent – so much so that in order for Mam to be cast as the lead once again, she is made to audition like any other young aspiring starlets.
Coming off ‘14’ ebullient pace, it does take a little while to get used to Adisorn’s measured and melodramatic pacing – filmed though it may have been in Siam Ocean World – especially when Adisorn reveals more of the couple’s turbulent romantic past through flashbacks. Admittedly, one wishes that the editing were more rigorous on this one, as some scenes (including one where Jon and Mam rehearse the script for the sequel and realise that the lines apply as much to their characters in the film as to themselves) drag on for too long. The payoff however is sweet, and in large part thanks to the affecting ending, you’ll be more forgiving towards the lax pacing.
Thankfully, ’42.195’ picks it up significantly – and aptly too – revolving around the May-September romance between a 42-year old newscaster (real-life veteran news anchor Sukquan Bulakul making her acting debut) and a 20-something year old avid marathon runner (Nichkhun Horvejkul from the South Korean boyband 2PM also making his acting debut). Their relationship begins when he knocks her down while running one day, and in the course of sending her back home, strikes up an easygoing friendship that grows into something more during the course of their daily jogging sessions together.
Jira Maligool is at the helm here, and the award-winning director isn’t one to shy away from more challenging material. With nuance and empathy, he captures the unlikely bond that develops between these two individuals. It’s only inevitable perhaps that disdain is the first reaction to their budding romance, but we guarantee you’ll soon have a change of heart as subsequent character revelations add much more depth to both leading protagonists. Unfortunately, Maligool does his film a disservice with a voiceover that comes off as smart-alecky by trying too hard to sound smart, knowing and humorous at the same time.
As is to be expected, the parallels between the perseverance needed to run a marathon and the same tenacity to go through life’s ups and downs is drawn – but what truly leaves an impression is the message of looking ahead yet not too far away. Yes, life can sometimes be like running a marathon, though an equally important lesson expressed through the sport is the ability to live life forwards while appreciating it backwards. Fans of Nichkhun will certainly be pleased with his performance, but we think the true star here is Sukquan whose portrayal of a middle-aged woman searching for new meaning and purpose in life is unexpectedly heartfelt and moving.
As with its previous films, GTH has demonstrated once again with this love anthology its ability to spin an interesting story and memorable characters with a simple but no less captivating concept. If ‘Seven Something’ is anything to go by, it shows that the next batch of rom-coms we see from GTH might in fact be willing to skew to more mature stories and themes and hence appeal to an older demographic. Yet the language of love is universal, cutting across age and generation – and we take this opportunity, on the occasion of your seventh birthday, to thank you for celebrating the gift of love in so many ways.
(If you love any of the GTH’s rom-coms ‘BTS’, ‘Hello Stranger’ or ‘ATM’, you’ll fall in love with this anthology of three stories each with their own unique appeal)
Review by Gabriel Chong