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Blissfully Yours (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on March 17, 2015

Memory plays tricks on you.  In the years since I first saw this movie, it had been reduced to two things: the surprising mid-movie opening credits, and a bucolic, meditative look at young lovers basking in the forest.  I’d forgotten the undercurrent of dread and sadness, the character conflicts.  It’s all so gentle and dreamlike, but when you watch it, there’s an uneasiness.  The story concerns Min (Min Oo), an illegal Burmese immigrant in Thailand.  He is being looked after by his lover, Roong (Kanokporn Tongaram), who paints Disney-esque figurines in a factory.  Roong has hired an older woman named Orn (Jenjira Jansuda) to help Min illicitly obtain the papers he needs to work, as well as do something about his nagging skin condition.  Orn, we discover, has lost a child and hopes for another… she is also possibly having an affair with one of her husband’s co-workers.

That is the “plot”, mostly revealed in dribs and drabs during the 45 minutes preceding the opening credits.  The rest of the film occurs during a lazy picnic in the forest, as Roong and Min try to get away from it all.  Orn and her lover either follow them, or end up in the same place by coincidence.  Both couples share sexual moments, delivered with an honest sensuality.  But underneath are the distances, as well as some rivalry between the women over Min.  Min, meanwhile, gives Roong the requisite amount of attention but his mind is elsewhere.  He’s already planning the next stages of his life, the next country even.  As much as the film’s aesthetic tries to tell us these people are sharing a magic moment of quietude, none of them are truly together.

Weerasethakul breaks the rules of cinema, but it’s never with a cocky or defiant attitude.  It’s as if he’s not even aware of the rules, or he’s saying “I can do this, so why shouldn’t I?”  It makes him one of the most playful and exciting directors working today.  What to make of the scene where Orn concocts a mix of skin creams and chopped vegetables, feeds her husband a spoonful, and he dreamily stares at the camera for a moment, looking as if he’s eaten something magical?  I don’t know what to make of it, but I friggin’ love it.  And then there are the white superimpositions of Min’s child-like sketches.  Or that unexpected pop song and title sequence.  Or the fact that the movie leisurely goes where it wants to, evoking both bliss and unease.

I don’t get as much out of this as I do from Syndromes or Boonmee, but I’m definitely glad I revisited it.  I can imagine it growing on me more.  Rating: Very Good (85)


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