With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, May 13, 2011

ACF 1015: "Ploy" at Asia Society tonight

Ploy (right) shares music with Wit in the hotel bar

Directed by Pen-ek Ratananuang
Thailand, 2007, 107 min.
When: Friday, May 13th, 2011 at 6:45 PM
Where: Asia Society
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), NYC
Post-screening Q&A with the director

Blissfully Thai, a series of eight Thai films co-presented by Asia Society and Cineaste, begins tonight with this enigmatic film about a couple whose marriage is in trouble.

Wit, who owns a restaurant in America, and Dang, his wife, a former Thai movie star, arrive in Bangkok for a funeral after a 20 hour flight. Tired and jet-lagged, they check into their hotel suite, but Wit quickly leaves to get some cigarettes. Apparently in no hurry to get back upstairs, he ensconces himself in the hotel bar where he meets 19 year old Ploy, a lovely young thing, slender with Afro-like hair.

Learning that she has a several hour wait before her mother arrives from Stockholm, Wit invites her to freshen up and rest in his room. This does not sit well with Dang, who is already suspicious of her husband because, while looking for the luggage key, she found a woman's name and number written on a piece of paper in his clothing.

Dang makes a call

A goodly portion of the film takes place in two hotel rooms. In Wit and Dang's room , Ploy's presence brings out Dang's jealousy and insecurity, both of which are exacerbated by her heavy drinking and apparent drug use. There may also be an underlying mental condition, as at one point Wit urges Dang to take her medication.

The other room, recently vacated, is being used by an alluring room maid for an early-morning tryst with the hotel bartender. Their passionate relationship stands in stark contrast with that of Wit and Dang, for whom love has seemed to have past its "expiration date."

The room maid checks herself out

However, things are not necessarily as they seems in this well-crafted and mysterious exploration of human feelings. Events that are depicted realistically turn out to be fantasies or dreams, so that there is much of which the viewer cannot be sure. For example, did the black eye Dang sports near the end of the film come from the assault shown or from some other unseen event?

Ploy is a fascinating, engrossing film what is well-worth seeing. Solidly recommended with an AsianCineFest rating of 3 out of 4 stars.

The Blissfully Thai film series runs from May 13th - June 17th, 2011. Detailed information about the entire series is available here.

It's worth noting that tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon will offer a special conversation with directors Pen-ek Ratanaruang and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), followed by a reception. For information about this special event, click here.

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