Director: Chayanop Boonprakob
Cast: Jirayu La-Ongmanee, Pachara Jirathiwat, Nattacha Nualijam, Thawat Pornrattanaprasert
RunTime: 2 hrs 16 mins
Released By: GV
Official Website: http://www.suckseedthemovie.com/
Opening Day: 18 August 2011
Synopsis: Ped is your average elementary school geek who has zero interest in music. But ever since the day his classmate "Earn" shared her love for music with him, Ped in return wants to share his true feelongs for her. Life has other plans for Earn when her parents whisk her away to Bangkok.
Ped has to put his love on hold and life goes on until one day they both unexpectedly run into each other in high school.
Earn is a guitar goddess hottie while Ped is still a geek. The hatch plan to form a rock band with their close school mates in the hopes to realize every teenage boy dream to get with the hottest chicks! Only problem is musically the three of the suck and suck hard but sometimes you got to SUCK before you SUCCEED!
If you’re wondering about the title of the movie, that’s the name three high-school kids give to their band, in tacit acknowledgement of their actual musical abilities vis-à-vis their peers. But while their band may, for the lack of a better word, suck, rest assured that this high-school musical drama doesn’t- in fact, it has plenty of spunk, loads of verve and infectious spirit to make it one of most original and lively Thai films we have ever seen.
First-time feature film director Chayanop Boonprakob is also the co-writer of the film, and he brings ‘oomph’ to what could otherwise have been a standard teenage drama about friendship, falling in love and getting the girl. Koong (Patchara Jirathiwat) and Ped (Jirayu La-ongmanee) are the two protagonists- the former confident and ostentatious, and the latter shy and reserved. But despite the differences in personality, Koong and Ped have been childhood friends and it is Ped whom Koong turns to one day to start a rock band and compete in the Hotwave Music Awards for high-school bands across the country.
His motivation is less than noble- Koong’s twin-brother Kay is a talented guitarist in a rock band called The Arena and the object of affection of many high-school girls, so Koong decides to follow in Kay’s footsteps partly to upstage him and partly to attract girls. The one they attract is their primary-school classmate- a sweet, charming girl called Earn (Natcha Nualjam)- whom Ped has had a crush on since they were young.
In fact, Boonprakob begins the film from their early childhood years when Earn lends the musically clueless Ped a cassette tape after their music class- a Loso song if you must know- that marks the start of Ped’s feelings for Earn. Nonetheless, the older Ped is equally timid to admit his feelings to either Koong or Earn, and even more so when Koong declares that he likes Earn. And like any such teenage rom-coms, you can probably guess that Ped and Koong’s affections for the same girl will turn their bond of friendship sour.
Still, Boonprakob and his four other writers boldly take liberties with formula by getting Koong to pluck up his courage to tell Earn his feelings halfway through the movie, such that Earn will leave their band even before they start competing to join The Arena. Just as well, Boonprakob doesn’t miraculously turn Ped, Koong and their drummer Ex (Thawat Pornrattanaprasert)’s band into some kick-ass team by the end of the movie- rather, the trio pretty much remain true to the name of their band, which is coincidentally the title of their self-composed song too.
Sure the movie celebrates the underdog spirit, but kudos to the scriptwriters for keeping their film real and not resorting to a happily-ever-after ending in order for the band to go from zero to hero. Rather, the make-believe embellishments come in the form of music-video interludes featuring popular Thai rockstars- Pu Blackhead, Big Ass, Paradox, So Cool and Bodyslam. Some of these references will likely be lost on a non-local audience, but these vignettes are nonetheless colourful and entertaining.
A lot of the movie’s raw charm also rests on the chemistry of the young cast. Jirathiwat does go over-the-top quite often, but he nails most of the funny lines and the setups well. La-ongmanee gives a pleasantly sensitive performance as Ped, especially in portraying his character’s suppressed affections for Earn. But the scene-stealer here is newcomer Nualjam- the daughter of veteran Thai blues axeman Laem Morrison has a natural unaffected charm and awesome musical talent on the guitar.
Contrary to what its premise may suggest, this is more than just a teenage drama for the high-school crowd. Indeed, it celebrates the best and the worst of adolescent years- standing out, fitting in, falling in love, and most of all, holding on to our dearest friendships- with such exuberance and empathy that you can’t quite help but be moved and stirred by it. Add to that some infectious rock tunes, and this is one high-spirited celebration of being the best you can be- even if you may suck!
(With plenty of spunk, loads of verve and an infectious and irresistible spirit, this is one of the liveliest and most exuberant films this year!)
Review by Gabriel Chong