Monday, April 12, 2004

Review: Blissfully Yours (Sud sanaeha)

  • Written and directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
  • Starring Kanokporn Tongaram, Min Oo, Jenjira Jansuda
  • Limited release in Thailand cinemas in 2002-3; DVD release in Thailand was censored; uncensored DVD available from Strand Releasing (U.S.) and Second Run (U.K.)
  • Rating: 5/5

Winner of the En Certain Regard award at the 2002 Cannes Films Festival, this is a film I was glad to get my hands on just to watch.

I had heard horror stories about it from people who hated its slowness and lack of point. But the film wasn't screened at Cannes for being a piece of shit.

Sure, it had no point. And when it ended, I was like ... huh? That's it? And I guess that IS the point.

It was refreshing to watch, having just immersed myself in a few major Thai melodramas - some good, some bad. Blissfully Yours is what it is. There' s no melodrama. It unfolds naturally. This was achieved, apparently, because the actors weren't professionals. As it goes, I felt like I was a peeping tom, spying on the private lives of these folks. And they do some pretty crazy stuff - like mix a veggie skin cream concoction and feed it to their husband and have sex in the jungle.

Set along the Thai-Burmese border, the story centres around Min, an illegal Burmese immigrant; his young Thai factory worker girlfriend, Roong; and Orn, a middle-aged businesswoman who is acting as a broker to assist Min.

The film opens at the doctor's office, and Min is being examined for a terrible flaking skin condition he has. He won't speak, for fear of revealing his Burmese-accented Thai. Orn tries to get the doctor to issue him a health certificate. No go. She can't do it. Orn also lingers to have a prescription filled for stress and she proceeds to fill the doctor in on the fact that she isn't getting any sex at home.

Roong heads off to work and Min walks with Orn around town, holding a pink umbrella over her as she walks through the market, buying some fruit and complaining to the vendor about the prices.

Later on, Orn and Min go to see Roong at her factory. Min hangs with the guards - Burmese guys. Roong hand paints clear laquer on little white ceramic statues. She only does it for a little bit and it looks painful and pointless. She asks her boss if she can leave, feigning illness. He says no, but she leaves anyway. She's off into the jungle for a picnic with Min. Somewhere in here the opening credits roll - halfway through the movie. The theme song, playing on the car radio is "Summer Samba (So Nice)", composed by Marcos Valle and sung by the Thai artist, Nadia.

There's a little more to this, but I've probably revealed too much already. As I said before, I was glad to get ahold of this, as sales of the DVDs of this movie has recently been banned for showing too much sex.

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