Inert Thai drama about a directionless twenty-something in Bangkok
Form follows content in this tediously inert Thai drama about a young man caught between eastern and western cultures and suffering from emotional paralysis. Emotional paralysis is quite possibly the state writer-director Aditya Assarat’s film will induce in audiences, given that for most of its seemingly interminable running time the bored-looking protagonist sits in his apartment possibly thinking about something or nothing.
The story, such as it is, concerns Ananda, a twenty-something Thai from a privileged background who returns to his home city, Bangkok, after a period of study in America and finds himself unable to reconnect with his culture. Installed in a once luxurious now shabby apartment block owned by his family, Ananda has a go at acting, taking a role in a film about the 2004 tsunami. Although he doesn’t seem particularly passionate about his new career, Ananda manages to alienate his American girlfriend Zoe by showing more ‘interest’ in work than in their love life. After the inevitable split, Ananda scores a Thai girlfriend, at which point the whole slacker romance restarts and viewers are forced to face up to the fact that they are going to have to watch the same slow-moving anti-drama all over.
All of which is a shame, because there’s potential for stuff to be happening in Assarat’s film. It’s title, Thai slang for ‘high society’, points towards a commentary on class. The ruination everywhere, from Ananda’s apartment to the film-within-a-film tsunami, suggests social commentary. And the man-between-cultures element sounds like a comment on globalism. But the film doesn’t engage with any of this; instead, it’s just looks nice in a trendy indie way.
Apparently, Ananda’s life is similar to that of Assarat, who was also born in Bangkok and was educated in America. Bearing that in mind, you’d think the filmmaker could have given his film a bit of dramatic charge.
Limited release from Fri 1 Mar.