Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: I Miss U



  • Directed by Monthon Arayangkoon
  • Starring Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Jessadaporn Pholdee, Natthaveeranuch Thongme
  • Released in Thai cinemas on May 31, 2012; rated 18+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

After the teen dance-romance Big Boy in 2010, Monthon Arayangkoon, who previously directed the Thai kaiju horror Garuda and the ghost thriller House makes a welcome return to the thriller genre with I Miss U (รักฉันอย่าคิดถึงฉัน, Rak Chan Yaa Khid Tueng Chang).

It is slow-paced and has a Thai love-song motif that gets used too much, but there is a bit of decent gore, a few good scares, a fair bit of suspense and even a humorous fake jump or two, all of which should make I Miss U a welcome view by Asian horror fans.

The ghost girlfriend drama stars Apinya Sakuljaroensuk as a young first-year resident surgeon at a Bangkok hospital. During her first operation, she runs into trouble and is bailed out by the chief resident Dr. Thana, played by Jessadaporn Pholdee. Young Dr. Bee has the temerity to talk back to the hotshot Thana, and he appeciates her spunk.

However, a colleague warns Bee that Thana is tainted goods. The doc hasn't been the same since the death of his fiancee in a car wreck, and it's rumored that any woman who approaches Thana is soon visited by the ghost of his wife-to-be, Dr. Nok (Natthaveeranuch Thongme).

That leads to a good early gore scene in an elevator, after a nurse sweet-talks Thana and passes him her phone number. Dr. Nok's ghost soon gets on the lift and bashes her head bloody on the wall for only the nurse to see and sending the young woman into hysterics.

Dr. Thana is one messed-up dude. He's so devoted to his dead girlfriend, that each week he leaves a fresh bouquet of white roses at the spot on the oddly deserted expressway where his car was cut off by a motorbike and rolled over, causing Nok's death. The weekly flower bouquet has been noticed by the media and become something of a sensation in this age of vapid, viral media. A camera crew ambushes Thana at the spot and sends the surgeon scampering away.


There's also giant posters of Nok in Thana's spacious home. And, whenever he orders coffee, he gets two cups, a latte for him and an Americano for Nok. The cups sit on the table, arranged just so, as if Nok were sitting there sipping along with him.

Gradually, the perky little Dr. Bee is let into Dr. Thana's world, and she's soon seeing Nok's ghost.

But Bee also has a rival for Thana's hand – a man-eating socialite portrayed by Monthon's House star Inthira Charoenpura, who oozes dusky, dragon-lady sexiness. Billed as a "special guest star", it's a bit of a different role for the Nang Nak and Naresuan star, but it looks like she had fun playing the bad girl.

Later, little Bee confronts her, and it's a pretty cool scene. The young Saipan Apinya, who made her debut in Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Ploy as the afro-haired title character and has since gone on to be a quite prolific film actress, is quite short in stature compared to the taller, more athletically built Sai Inthira, who looks like she could eat Apinya for breakfast. But Saipan holds her ground, and karma is served.

More weird stuff about Thana is revealed, like how he arranged for Nok's corpse to be kept in the teaching hospital's morgue as a research cadaver. And there, on a gray, withered hand is the ring he gave her.

Bee, trying to make sense of it all, visits the corpse and finds herself chased by a bird (nok, in Thai language means bird), and it's perhaps a little nod to Hitchcock as a single sparrow chases Bee down the stairs.

In a bizarre move by studio M-Thirtynine, the movie was released in Thai cinemas with three different endings, each playing on certain weeks during the movie's run. I can't believe the studio would expect movie-goers to head down to the cinema three weeks in a row just to catch a different ending. In this era of digital downloads and YouTube, the different ends are best left as an extra on the DVD release or as a premium on the VOD version.

I've had the other endings described to me, and the one I saw I think made the most sense, even if was ambiguous, which is not a bad thing. Thai movies tend to have these nicely tied-up, perfectly happy endings, even if they've been sad. The ambiguity is refreshing.

I could have done without the repeated refrains of the sappy Boyd Koysibong love song though. It was apparently the favorite of Dr. Nok, a point that's hammered mercilessly. It got old.

A bright point toward the end was rumination about the moment of death, and what it means to loved ones who are there to witness it. What is it that keeps the spirit of our dearly departed attached to our consciousnesses? In some cases, it's love, or perhaps just plain grief.

But in Dr. Thana's case, it's guilt.


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