May 08, 2005

Pen-ek Ratanaruang, 1999

i was actually expecting to be taken away a bit more by this film. it's a nice little movie, don't get me wrong, but it's nothing more. but -- it contains one of the most impressive, stellar performances i've seen in recent months. it comes courtesy of (then-) newcomer Lalita Panyopas. the film should be seen if only for her strangely serene performance (the film is also very good, just not as stellar as its reputation had me believing). she gives such a quietly wide-eyed, yet strong, performance. her face remains passive through most of the film, and yet, she's so transparent and emotive that you feel and see her working out every little thought; taking it all in, working it out as it comes along. but they never make the mistake of having her become a heroic or righteous character. she's never ahead of the curve as, say, a John McLane would be in a Die Hard flick. she can be pro-active but never overly or unbelievably so. oh, please try not to watch the film as a Pulp Fiction knock-off, because it will fuck you up big-time. i know it did with me. the references are there but it's not as ludicrous as Tarantino's films (and not mean to be, either, i don't think). i guess on paper it has the feel of one (outlandish events happening to ordinary people) but Ratanaruang and Panyopas deal with it in such a quiet and introverted manner that make Tum seem to absorb events and actions rather than breaking out of them and giving the film a larger-than-life nature. here they make it about an ordinary woman trying to work things out. there is one scene towards the end that made me momentarily give up my theory about it not being a knock-off (you'll know when it happens), but aside from that silly little trangression this is one stylishly quiet film. and once again, Panyopas owns the screen. too bad she seems to have fallen off the face of the earth after this stunning debut.
looking forward to watching Ratanaruang's Last Life in the Universe next. looks and sounds like he was just revving up with this one.

Posted by Sam | 9:43 AM |