Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Seven Something

  • Directed by Paween Purijitpanya, Adisorn Trisirikasem, Jira Maligool
  • Starring Jirayu La-ongmanee, Suthata Udomsilp, Sunny Suwanmethanon and Cris Horwang, Nichkhun Horvejkul, Sukwan Bulakul, Panissara Phimpru
  • Released in Thai cinemas on July 26, 2012; rated G
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5

It's been eight years since since production companies GMM Pictures, Tai Entertainment and Hub Ho Hin merged to form the GTH studio, but for reasons of superstitious love of auspicious numbers and a slick marketing gimmick, they are celebrating seven years this year with the release of Seven Something  (รัก 7 ปี ดี 7 หน, Rak Jet Pee Dee Jet Hon), a three-segment romance.

It's very much in the spirit of past GTH efforts, featuring directors and stars who've played parts in the studio's successes. They are the familiar GTH stories of comfortable middle- and upper-class urban Thai existence, dealing with three stages of life and love. All have something or other to do with numbers that can be multiplied by seven.

The first part, 14 Likes, marks a departure for director Paween Purijitpanya, who's been doing horror for GTH, like Body #19 and segments in the Phobia movies. But Paween's cartoonish hyper-stylistic sensibilities perfectly fit this story of teen romance in this age of the Internet and social networks. It's actually a bit of a psycho-drama, examining the peculiar habit of constantly snapping self-portrait phone-cam photos and oversharing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

Jirayu La-ongmanee from SuckSeed and Suthata Udomsilp from Laddaland are teenage lovers. Their relationship starts out cute with the schoolyard gossip about the couple playing in dialogue recorded over the school bus scene from the 2003 classic childhood romance Fan Chan – the first movie the three companies that formed GTH collaborated on.

As the kids court, the boy's obsession with recording the entire proceedings becomes problematic when he uses his tricked-out iPhone to make a video of his sweetheart during an outing in the park. She thinks the short film was made just for her, and she's disappointed to find he's shared it with everyone. Later, a personal chat and ukulele performance she gives him on Skype is recorded and shared. After she gets mad, he tries to make it private, but it's too late. The relationship hits a firewall.

Even then, the kid can't stop with the Internet, taking to the popular Web forum to share his feelings about the breakup, and then finally recording a tearful apology and of course sharing it with everyone.

Adisorn Trisirikasem directs the second part, 21/28, which covers a celebrity couple, Sunny Suwanmethanon from Dear Dakanda and Cris Horwang from Bangkok Traffic Love Story. This segment has plenty of in-jokes and references to past GTH films as it tells the story of a 21-year-old actor and actress who become hitched while making a romantic comedy called Sea You. Afterward, they had a very ugly, very public break-up. Now, at age 28, with her value as a starlet quickly diminishing, the actress Mam tracks down her old co-star boyfriend Jon in hopes of getting him on board for a sequel, Sea You Again.

It's a sharp commentary on the state of youth-obssessed showbiz in which still-attractive, still-talented stars find their opportunities drying up before they even hit 30.

The segment also offers plenty of eye-candy, thanks to it being filmed among the colorful marine critters at Siam Ocean World, where Sunny's character has grown a pot belly even though he's working as scuba diver for the crowds of schoolkids. Cris turns up to plead with him through the aquarium glass while Sunny remains stoic behind his diver's mask.

The final segment in this 2.5-hour extravaganza marks the return of studio co-founder Jira Maligool to the director's chair for the first time since his infamous 2005 flop, the historical coming-of-age drama The Tin Mine.

His story about marathon runners, 42.195, marks a return to form more in keeping with his simpler and critically acclaimed Mekhong Full Moon Party, which was entertaining even though it was heavy on spiritual and philosphical methaphors.

Here, running a marathon is a new beginning for a 42-year-old widowed newscaster, portrayed by real-life veteran news anchor Sukquan Bulakul in her debut as an actor.

Still in mourning over the husband she lost to an airliner crash, she is strolling in Lumpini Park when she is literally knocked head over heels by a young runner, 20 years her junior. He's played by Nichkhun Horvejkul, the Thai guy in the immensely popular South Korean boyband 2PM. He's also making his debut as an actor.

The two form an odd but heartfelt friendship as they support each other in training for the Bangkok marathon and preparing themselves for hitting that physical and mental "wall" at some point during the race.

Along the way, there are plenty of fun cameos from regular GTH stars and bit-part players, too many to mention. The most prominent is "Opal" Panissara Pimpru, who got her start in GTH films playing the saucy comic relief character and is today a popular TV presenter and personality. Here, she's the supportive best friend of Suquan's character in the marathon segment. Chaleumpol "Jack Fan Chan" Tikumpornteerawong, who can be counted on for cameos in most GTH movies, turns up outside of the Fan Chan clip as himself, hosting a movie-awards show and getting punched out. The best is saved for last, with 80-something actor-director Somboonsuk "Piak Poster" Niyomsiri from last year's hit The Billionaire seen triumphantly crossing the marathon finish line.

The endings of each segment tend toward sadness, bittersweetness or ambiguity, but the producers still send everyone out of the cinema with big smiles on their faces, thanks to a closing-credits sequence in which the entire cast and all the participating extras shimmy and shake around a big birthday cake as peppy pop music plays.

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  1. I have watched this movie just now, with absolutely no subs because I can read and understand Thai somehow (I repeat some scenes which were too fast, or pause to some reading scenes with too much lines) but DAMN! Thai people really do know how to create the best love stories!

  2. I've just started to pay attention to Thai Cinema, as light romantic comedy is my favourite genre, I must say it's like discovering a gold mine! This film was very well done, and am I ever more surprised by how finished Thai movies are with their great scenes and story lines. I especially liked the last of the 3 stories, very uplifting and metaphorical.

    From a person coming from Hong Kong, it's sad to see how Hong Kong cinema has gone downhill meanwhile.


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