* Prices may differ from that shown
Star - Thailand
Genre - Drama
County - Thailand
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 92 minutes
Amazon - £10.00 DVD
Blockbusters - £.99p per night rental
It's three years since the Boxing Day tsunami reared up with a crashing roar and slammed into Thailand, the coastal town of Takua Pa recovering slowly. Handsome young architect Ton (Anchalee Saisoontorn) is down from Bangkok and is moving into a bed & breakfast just up the ocean road ready to help develop a construction project there, local tourism almost nonexistent since the destruction washed most of the resort away.
The hotel is run by local girl Na (Supphasit Kansen), the attractive receptionist soon taking a shine to the handsome young architect from the big city. They begin a tentative secret love affair, both slow to push it, just a look or smile enough but the affection obvious as kisses are finally stolen. Thailand is a conservative place and around the more rural parts like Takua Pa rumors soon spread of illicit affairs, the couple meeting with strong opposition from some of the nosier town's residents when they are suspected.
Although the ocean is back to normal the furtive relationship is causing shimmering ripples of tension that will soon be making threatening waves. Na's brother Tan (Dul Yaambunying) is a local small time gangster, menacing Ton over the relationship when he has the opportunity, riding his motorbike gang up close to Ton trying to intimidate him out of town. Na knows her brother is torn between wanting her to be happy and respecting the family name, honor everything in Buddhist Thailand. But how serious is the threat and is it worth carrying on the love affair with Na to find out?
= = = Cast = = =
Anchalee Saisoontorn ... Ton
Supphasit Kansen ... Na
Dul Yaambunying ...Tan
= = = The result = = =
The tsunami metaphors are plenty here and why not. The 2004 event has clearly affected a nations psyche and now is the time to make intelligent films about it. Although billed as a forbidden love story, director Aditya Assarat makes this a more multi layered affair, leaving space to explore the darker side of Thailand, and making gentle comment on how, post tsunami, the developers have moved in to throw up their vulgar hotels and forced out some local villagers and fisherman with lowly compensation. A wider problem was with the locals themselves, refusing to eat the fish soon after the disaster as they believed the marine life was swimming amongst dead bodies and so eating their souls.
= = = Thailand government tsunami statistics = = =
4,182 reported dead
8,457 serious injuries
The tsunami looms large, even though it's only mentioned once here, open season on tidal wave metaphors, which this particular opinion site writer is also exploiting. The love story starts off sweet and the film ambling along hand-in-hand and all rather dull, until it's made clear that Ton is not wanted around these parts, a dynamic I wasn't expecting. Townie meets country girl love stories are predictable.
Wonderful Town cleaned up at its own Thai film awards and also won around the international circuit, those feelings of family religious constriction and honor resonating with film juries of the world. The two turns in the lead are all very fine and the subtitles few and far between as the beautiful Thai countryside fills the pregnant pauses. This is some country and incredibly green, all about the menacing silence and the warm breeze in the palms here. It's certainly not a particularly romantic film if that's what you are looking for and more of an observation piece on the hidden side of Thailand although, refreshingly no child sex abuse or drugs going on, the only reason until the tsunami that Thailand ever made the news here.
I enjoyed it enough although not stand out in the genre and plenty better foreign movies this year that I have seen. But it's always nice to see a filmmaker in action from another country and so glad I watched it.
= = = Ratings = = =
Imdb.com - 6.6/10.0 (567 votes)
Metacritc.com - 76% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com -86% critic's approval rating
= = = Critics = = =
Filmcritic.com -'Laundry drying in a breeze has never looked so threatening'.
Las Vegas Times -'It's a film that seduces rather than grabs'.
Chicago Tribune -'There's a folksy majesty to Wonderful Town, born of its leisurely pace, pastoral views of idyllic scenery and a storytelling drive set only slightly faster than slow motion'.
The Telegraph - 'A purposeful, almost meditative exploration of the scars left on a people's psyche after tragedy'.
Film4 -'Seductive yet unilluminating'.
Filmstar Magazine -'The shots of the terrible ruins encircling these damaged lives are poetically haunting in their stirring minimalism. With the urbanite protagonist perhaps representing an uncaring nation, which has abandoned the rural poor in their hour of need.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =