Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Thailand, 2002, 125 minutes
When: Friday, June 17th, 2011 at 6:45 PM
Where: Asia Society
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), NYC
The eight film Blissfully Thai series, presented by Asia Society in association with Cineaste, will conclude tonight with this 2002 film from recent Cannes winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
The film starts abruptly in a doctors office. The female doctor is examining a handsome young man, Min (the beyond belief, good-looking Min Oo), who's returned because his skin condition has worsened. He's accompanied by two women, one his age, the other closer to middle age, who speak for him supposedly because his throat hurts.
After Roong (Kanokporn Tongaram), the younger woman, leaves to go to work at a factory, the older woman, Orn (Jenjira Jansuda), tries to get the doctor to certify that Min, whom she claims is her nephew, is healthy so he can get a work permit. But the doctor firmly refuses, because they haven't brought Min's ID with them. Without seeing his ID, the doctor would be breaking the law and jeopardizing her practice by certifying him.
Clearly something else is going on than what's being alleged. Min, it turns out, is not Orn's nephew, nor is he related to her in any way; he's Roong's current boyfriend, an illegal immigrant from nearby Burma. And he can talk just fine. Roong, however, does work at a factory. Orn runs a dormitory for girls, possibly including Roong, and wants to have a child with her husband Sirote.
The remainder of the film takes place during the same day. Roong borrows Orn's car so she can drive Min to a special place he wants them to go. After a long drive and a long walk through the jungle, they arrive at a flat outcropping with a beautiful view. There they picnic, at least until their food is overrun by red ants. They relocate to the bank of a small, shallow river, where by chance they are later joined by Orn.
Blissfully Yours is quite an unusual film in several ways. There are at least two quite lengthy driving sequences, often with the camera looking out the back window. And both Min and Roong's walk to the picnic site and Orn's wanderings until she comes upon them also go on for quite awhile. Oh, and I should mention that the credits do not begin rolling until we're about 43 minutes into the story!
The film is certainly imaginative in its way, but it's definitely not for everyone, perhaps not even most. Watching a DVD screener, I frequently held down the fast-forward button to skim through the proceedings until there was some dialogue or something of visual interest going on.
ACF Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. A fairly good film, but as I've indicated, not to everyone's taste.