Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Love Julinsee (Rak Man Yai Mak)

  • Directed by Chainarong Tampong and Sakol Tiachareon
  • Starring Irada Siriwut, Nuttapong Piboonthanakiet, Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Tisanat Sornsuek, Alex Rendell
  • Released in Thai cinemas on February 3, 2011; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 2/5

Love Julinsee (Rak Man Yai Mak, เลิฟ จุลินทรีย์ รักมันใหญ่มาก) is a big tease.

This compilation of four youth-oriented romance stories by studio M-Thirtynine got censors all worked up when the trailer showed schoolkids in uniform almost kissing. The censors banned the trailer and forced the studio to cut a new one, but the cultural watchdogs actually did the studio a favor by giving them free publicity for what turns out to be an extremely insubstantial movie with stories that don't really go anywhere.

If you've seen the trailers, then you've pretty well seen the movie. All the best bits are there.

The premise has four groups of youngsters heading off to last December's Big Mountain Music Festival in the mountains of Khao Yai National Park, but the bulk of the action actually takes place before the festival. So the carnival-like spectacle of Big Mountain and the costumed rock band Paradox ends up just being a backdrop or window dressing. Very little of the movie actually happens there.

The first segment has the guitar-playing girl Pla (Irada Siriwut) going to the festival to forget her cheating ex-boyfriend. She caught him in a lie and then strung him along on Internet chat until she could get him at a concert where she then sings a vulgar song to humiliate him in front of everyone. And that's that, aside from some advice from the girl's mother that, yep, men are dogs. Deal with it.

Next is a Chiang Mai high-school boy named Boat (Nuttapong Piboonthanakiet) who thinks he's a player and sets his cap for upperclassman cheerleader Fon. She is lovely young actress Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, all grown up since Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Ploy. She's actually the one who's doing the playing, getting her young man all worked up with clear views of the scenery down her loose-fitting T-shirt and a glimpse of the butterfly tattoo on her belly, winging its way from the waistband of her shorts. She almost kisses him in a steamy session in the car in which they share shredded fish snacks. The denouement is cruel for the young man, who is left cowering in the bushes at a mountaintop scenic overlook while she cheerfully motors off to Khao Yai with her ladyboy cheerleader friends.

The third segment is set at Silpakorn University in Bangkok, where the girl Nao (Tisanat Sornsuek) plays annoyingly juvenile games to get her boyfriend Yoh (Alex Rendell) to tell her she loves him. At the urging of her wisecracking bespectacled girlfriend, Nao tries to make Yoh jealous by walking with another guy. The two come to blows during the rehearsal of a traditional dance play that involves swordfighting. They are swatted on their behinds by the teacher for ruining the play. Gosh, will these two bickering kids ever get together? Who cares? I was just glad when this segment was over.

Finally there's a look at schoolkids growing up in a fishing village, I think in Rayong, along the Eastern Seaboard. Yok (Jirayu La-Ongmanee) and Eue (Monchanok Saengchaipiangpen) are lifelong best friends who take the big step of being boyfriend and girlfriend. This is probably the best segment in terms of where the story goes and how it resolves. The youngsters are dealing with new feelings and emotions, unsure if they like the attention that comes along with being a couple. They are embarrassed to think about what others think, and the girl is reluctant to be kissed because of what others would think and so on. Jealousy rears its head too, when another girl shows interest in Yok. But Eua and Yok go off to the music fest together. However, even out in the middle of the woods, far away from the concert and any prying eyes, she still won't let him kiss her.

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