(18) 122min (Second Run DVD retail)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul made his reputation with his 2004 gay shape shifter jungle tale Tropical Malady, but this earlier outing is worth seeking out. Working as usual outside the strict Thai studio system, Weerasethakul is more interested in the observational possibilities in city life and the tactile relationship his characters have with each other, than he is in furthering plot. Whether exploring urban living in the film’s first section, or the languorous longings of the touch and the caressingly therapeutic immediacy of the sights and sound of nature later on in the film, Weerasethakul keeps psychological and narrative ambiguity to the maximum. It is as though he wants us to achieve the ‘voidness’ he speaks of in interviews, that he wants us to respond to the sense of things rather than their meaning. With vivid use of sound and colour the director reminds us that cinema is, as Susan Sontag once proposed, a great medium of ‘sensuous elaboration’. Presented fully uncut in a new digital transfer approved by the director, extras include a filmed introduction by Weerasethakul and a booklet featuring a new essay on the film by Tony Rayns.