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Mundane History

Posted by martinteller on September 8, 2012

Ake (Paramej Noiam) is paralyzed from the waist down, the result of an unnamed accident.  He lives in a “soulless” household with his distant father, a handful of servants, and his male nurse, Pun (Arkanae Cherkam, of Syndromes and a Century).  Ake is bitter and even petulant, but eventually Pun breaks through and the two form a friendly bond.

First-time director Anocha Suwichakornpong tells her story in a non-linear fashion.  Somewhat like Martha Marcy May Marlene, it takes a few moments to realize you’re viewing some scenes out of sequence.  It may seem unfair (or just too easy) to compare another Thai director to Weerasethakul, but she is using the same lead actor and the same editor, and employs similar gentle rhythms and intimacy.  There’s also the same abrupt placement of the titles.  But Suwichakornpong isn’t quite as deft with her material.  Even if the exact political implications are unclear to an outsider like myself, there are some metaphors that — although lovely — are far too blatant.  You really can’t get much clearer or more obvious symbols of rebirth.

Still, you can chalk it up to perhaps the overeagerness of a new director trying to make an impression.  Despite the occasional heavy-handedness or the arguably unnecessary fragmented structure, the underlying character drama is handled quite nicely.  With mere morsels of background information, the story of the developing relationship between Ake and Pun is compelling and speaks of the larger sociological picture.  The framing is very expressive and there’s some excellent scoring/songs by “Furniture” and “The Photo Sticker Machine”.  Maybe the film is occasionally too overreaching or ambitious, but I like a little ambition.  And by any measure, it’s a poignant and intriguing movie.  I could envision it growing on me, and I’d like to see what Suwichakornpong does next.  Rating: Good (74)


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