Sunday, June 28, 2009

Meet Gybzy, Pen-ek's new muse

Wanida Termthanaporn is making her feature-film debut as the lead in Nymph (Nang Mai), the new thriller by Pen-ek Ratanaruang. It's obvious from the lingering looks at her in the trailer that Pen-ek is quite taken with her as an actress. And her performance has been noted by the film critics -- even those who didn't particularly care for the movie liked her.

But they could probably criticize her all they want. Better known as Gybzy of the pop girl group Girly Berry, she's pretty used to scandalmongers, critics and rumors by now. The image of Girly Berry seems to be the lightning rod for critics -- the young women dress sexy and act sexy, and so rumors are started about them. I don't know what all the fuss is about.

Girly Berry was at the center of a controversy last year when the group was appointed role models for the traditional celebration of Songkran, the Thai New Year. The Culture Ministry dressed the four young ladies up in traditional Thai dresses, and had them demonstrate the demure ways of good Thai girls, sedately sprinkling water in a sacred annual cleansing rite. Of course the Culture Ministry's move backfired when Girly Berry went right on being Girly Berry (yay!), wearing short-shorts and the much-frowned-upon spaghetti-strap tops as they bumped and ground in a stage show for the rauscously splashing Songkran revellers on Khao San Road.

After the Cannes Film Festival, Gybzy was at the center of more criticism for her choice in clothes -- taste-minders said the denim shorts she wore for a photo call and the little white dress she wore at the premiere were too short. Dirtii Laundry had more on that awhile back.

Now really. Who cares? Sure, most of the actresses hitting the red carpet are wearing long gowns, or some semblance of a long gown. But then those gowns will be see-through, reveal cleavage from multiple angles or be so low cut in the back that another kind of cleavage is showing. Gybzy actually has some class.

Anyway, Gybzy has apparently been trying to cross over into acting for some time. Remembering a glance at an earlier Bangkok Post article about Nymph, Pen-ek selected her from an audition disc and decided he wanted to make a movie with her.

Gybzy describes her reaction in an article in Saturday's Bangkok Post. Here's an excerpt:

"When I was told Pen-ek had cast me, I was very surprised," she recalled. "After reading the script, I thought the role was not exactly for me. The lead character is a housewife in her mid-thirties and I am just a childish 25-year-old girl."

In Nang Mai, she plays May, an urban housewife who is married to photographer Nop, played by Noppachai Jayanama. One evening, the couple go on a trip into the jungle where Nop plans to take photos and spend time with his wife. In the jungle, he stumbles upon a mysterious tree, underneath which he believes there is something that calling out to him. When he fails to return to the tent, May sets out to look for him only to find his mobile phone and one sandal. She is then struck by the premonition that she has lost her husband maybe forever.

"I guess it was my hairstyle I had at the time of the audition. It was a bit short and it made me look a little older. So, I assumed it was the reason why he cast me," she said, jokingly.

In an interview with the Bangkok Post's film critic Kong Rithdee, Pen-ek shared that a minute into watching the tape of Gybzy's audition he found in her what he felt was missing in his script and in the rest of the candidates.

"It was guilt. Gybzy looked as if she had done something wrong and was afraid people would find out. So I chose her based on that fact. My casting director protested that she wasn't at all like the May in the script," he said.

In the end, said Pen-ek, Gybzy inspired him so much that he decided to re-write the script just to have her in his film.

Gybzy is also set to star in Pen-ek's short for the Saneh Bangkok omnibus film.

Nymph, meanwhile, opens in Thai cinemas on Wednesday. It's also headed for Toronto in September, and Saturday's Bangkok Post article tips it for this fall's Pusan International Film Festival.

Wonder what Gybzy will be wearing?

(Photos via Bangkok 1080/Deknang/Popcornmag and

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