Friday, September 8, 2006

Review: Seasons Change

  • Directed by Nithiwat Tharatorn
  • Starring Witawat Singhalampong, Yuwanart Arayanimitsakul, Chutima Teepanart, Jumpon Thongtan, Yano Kazuki, Panisara Pimpru
  • Released in theaters in Thailand on August 31, 2006

Like the real seasons in Thailand, it’s hard to tell sometimes when it might rain and when it might be sticky hot. But overall, it all just seems the same, no matter what time of the year it is.

In Seasons Change, the latest romantic comedy from GMM Tai Hub – yet another first solo directorial effort by one of the Fan Chan gang of six, Nithiwat Tharatorn – it’s sickly sweet all the time.

This coming-of-age story is about Pom (Witawat Singhalampong), a little drummer boy with a crush on Dao (Yuwanart Arayanimitsakul), a pretty girl in his school who doesn’t even realise he exists.

But when he finds out she is heading off to Mahidol College of Music, Pom decides to enrol, against the wishes of his grocer father (Jumpon Thongtan), who wants the boy to study medicine and become a doctor, just like his father’s best friend.

For help in covering up his music studies, Pom enlists the help of Aom (Chutima Teepanart), the daughter of that doctor. And thus begins the love triangle. Pom only has eyes for the beautiful, talented Dao, who’s practicing so hard at becoming a violin prodigy and a scholarship to Hungary, that she doesn’t have time for boys. While Aom, who isn’t as pretty or musically gifted but has spunk to spare, has fallen for Pom. She indulges Pom in the only way a good Thai girl can – she doesn’t make him eat his vegetables.

Pom, meanwhile, must also choose between rock music and classical. Should he go for a sound that’s fun to play and easy to listen to, or opt for elegance and sophistication, but also a lot of hard work? He’s picked by a couple of guys and pressed into their power trio, playing some punky, guitar-driven rock ballads.

However, since Dao is the concertmaster for the orchestra, Pom joins that as well and lands a spot playing timpani. He’s frustrated by Dao’s failure to notice him and bored by the lack of notes in the Vivaldi piece they’re playing – a little number called The Four Seasons.

But, with the help of a wizened Yoda of a Japanese percussion instructor (the enjoyable mime-actor Yano Kazuki, who gets more play here than he did in Metrosexual), Pom begins to understand the spaces between the notes and take interest in the bigger picture. Plus, he’s helping Aom, a multi-instrumentalist whose only real talent seems to be the cymbals, with her studies. Maybe the girl has possibilities, both as a girlfriend and as a talented musician, after all.

Eventually Pom makes his final decision – he goes classical – much to the disappointment of the guys in his band. They play one last number on the campus quad, which catches the attention of Dao. Suddenly, she and Pom are an item and a crestfallen Aom fades to the background.

But even with those hard feelings, there’s plenty of time for comical misunderstandings, slapstick and musical interludes.

The film is really just an enjoyable romp, nothing more, though it does have some good performances that will likely be noticed again during awards season next year. The GTH stock company, including Jumpon (he played the shopkeeper in The Tin Mine) and Kazuki, is doing excellent work. Chaleumpol Tikumpornteerawong, the bully Jack from Fan Chan, has a bit part as a saxophonist who jazzes it up while Pom is trying to talk on the phone.

The best is comic actress Panisara Pimpru (who stole the show in Dear Dakanda as the outrageous nurse Tan and was the fortune-teller in Metrosexual) as the orchestra conductor, Professor Rosie – a bespectacled, curly-haired lady who spends time offering advice to musicians about how to play notes that aren’t on the page. She shows up on stage for the final concert in a black dress that’s capped with a big, white bow. Just the right thing to tie up this tight, little package of a teen romance, with happy endings for all.

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(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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