This movie is a fantastic cultural critique, focused on a provincial town in southern Thailand and propelled forward by actors in a real setting. It largely deals with the point where the past-both distant and recent-collides with the modern day. What stands out most is the mysticism, how ghosts and spirits inhabit the same space as the living in Thai culture. But even the way the directors juxtapose nature with contemporary life is brilliant. Monkeys climbing on sculptures; elephants and tigers frozen in time as statues, no longer wild roaming; the old boxer in his jungle hut, a spectral spectator in his own home. Then there's the sense that memory is fragile and failing, and the past isn't necessarily what we think it is. The choice of soundtrack-koel birds, the cadence of Thai cadets marching, cicadas-ties it all together. The pacing, too, works wonderfully. It can be slow at times, but by and large the shifts in scenes and long, static shots keep you on the edge of your seat. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. That could be because I've lived in Thailand quite a while. If you don't live here, or if you haven't invested time in understanding its folklore or even its collective identity today, then it might not all click. But give it a shot anyway. The cinematography alone is worth your time.
The landscape and stories within the community of Krabi, Southern Thailand. It captures the town in this specific moment where the pre-historic, the more recent past and the contemporary world collide, sometimes uneasily.
October 11, 2020