Director: Pen-ek Ratanaruang
Cast: Lalita Panyopas, Pornwut Sarasin, Apinya Sakuljaroensuk,
Phorntip Papanai, Ananda Everingham
1 hr 47 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: R21 (Sexual Scenes)
Opening Day: 23 April 2009
Every relationship has an expiry date. Every relationship needs its fantasies… some more real than others…
A violent death of a relative brings Wit and his wife, Dang, back to Bangkok from America, for the first time in 7 years. As soon as they arrive in Bangkok at 5:30am, Wit and Dang checked into a posh hotel downtown.
Upon reaching their room, Wit noticed that he is out of cigarettes and heads to the lobby bar to get some. After getting his pack of cigarettes, Wit decided to have a cup of coffee and have a smoke at the bar.
While Wit was having his coffee, he was approached by a girl who emerges from a dark corner of the bar. She asked if she can borrow his lighter and also for a cigarette… Soon, the two engaged in a conversation and the girl’s name is Ploy.
This is how our little tale of love and jealousy begins. A highly detailed psychological drama with three strangers locked inside one hotel room. It starts with subtle suspicions and builds up to overwhelming jealousy, The appearance of a young woman triggers the underlying issues and intense relationship of the couple, who suddenly realized how they had grown apart in their seven-year marriage, before it reaches a devastating climax.
the final act, the couple faced the choice of going separate
ways or to embrace their differences and start their relationship
If you are a fan of Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s
previous films, then you would probably enjoy his latest work.
The filmmaker behind arthouse pictures like Last Life in the
Universe (2001) and Invisible Waves (2006) is back to enthrall
audiences with his indie surrealistic style of making movies.
If you are a fan of Thai movies which involve violent Muay
Thai boxing, scary vengeful spirits or campy transexuals,
then it is best that you avoid this one because you don’t
want to end up cursing and swearing by the whole seemingly
ridiculous plot setup.
couple returns home to Thailand for the first time in seven
years to attend a funeral. The man befriends a young girl
in a bar and brings her back to his hotel room, where his
wife is apparently drained from the jetlag. Love and jealousy
come into the picture as the trio becomes suspicious of each
other’s presence in the hotel room. In the next room,
another couple is exploring love through sex. What do these
people in common that will ultimately bind them together?
What was going through the man’s mind when he decided
to bring the young girl back to the hotel room? What were
the wife’s intentions when she decided to smother the
young girl with a clean white pillow? What were the stranger
couple’s thoughts when they were making love to each
other next door?
these questions and more will continue to linger in your mind
long after you leave the theatre. And such is the power of
Ratanaruang’s unique filmmaking style.
107 minute drama may play out as a psychological thriller
(the poster tells us that it is erotic, sensual and thrilling
– what more can we say?), but it is anything more than
that. The chillingly bare cinematography nicely complements
the stark loneliness experienced by the characters. The notion
of love having an expiry date (Wong Kar Wai, anyone?) is constantly
being questioned by the characters in several ways. The subject
matter of what’s real and what’s imagined around
us is a recurring theme here. You know it takes nothing less
than an arthouse flick to address these issues, and you should
know better then to go into the cinema expecting a showy display
of Thailand’s colourful culture.
bare camera direction by Chankit Chamnivikaipong (who also
worked on Rataaruang’s Transistor Love Story in 2001)
and the minimal original music score by Hualampong Riddim
(Me… Myself) and Koichi Shimizu (Wonderful Town) are
enough to show that you don’t need fancy visuals and
dramatic underscores to bring out the naked emotions of human
actress Lalita Panyopas plays the exhausted wife, and having
worked with the director previously in 6ixtynin9 (1999), she
grapples the tormented and conflicted character with ease.
One cannot help but empathize with what she is going through.
If there is one thing eye catching about the film which premiered
during the Director’s Fortnight at the 2007 Cannes Film
Festival, it would be Apinya Sakuljaroensuk’s (4bia)
Afro hairdo. The teenage girl’s who plays the titular
Ploy has a unique image somewhat overshadows her underrated
performance. And everyone’s favourite Thai heartthrob
Ananda Everingham (The Leap Years) has a supporting role of
a bartender which will make you sit up and watch – simply
because his lovemaking scenes with a hotel maid are so uncomfortably
desolate, you can’t help but question the perception
of love in this commercialised world.
(Watch this satisfying arthouse film if you want to
challenge your intellect. Or if you are an Ananda fan)
Review by John Li