6ixtynin9 (Ruang Talok 69)

Director: Pen-ek Ratanaruang
Stars: Lalita Panyopas, Tasanawalai Ongartittichai, Black Phomtong, Sritao, Arun Wannardbodeewong
Time: 114 minutes
Year: 1999

In an odd sort of way this is reminiscent of a fast moving bedroom farce except that instead of hiding various lovers away in closets, it is dead bodies being stuffed into drawers, in the bathtub and of course for good measure one in the closet. Though the film is played with a straight face throughout, it is a gleefully morbid comedy that is almost cruel at times but becomes only more amusing as the body count rises. It feels as if there is a definite Tarentino influence at work here - not so much in the editing - this is much more low key - but more so in the application of black humor and the way the film will suddenly go of on a riff with a minor character. There are a couple rewarding moments in doing so such as with the three women who fantasize about cutting of a man's penis and putting it into a blender (this after they mistake something to do with murder for oral sex!) or the killer who cries when he hears a song his mother loved.

Tum  (Lalita Panyopas) seems to have the fates against her when her boss has an office full of women pick sticks to see who is being let go from their jobs. Her number comes up 9 and it’s only the beginning of her run of bad luck around this number. She goes home – with a quick shoplifting stop off that shows both how desperate she is as well as displaying a bit of larceny in her heart – and goes to sleep. In the morning she wakes up to find a box with one million Baht ($25,000) left at the front of her door. It is a clear mistake but she takes it anyway. Two thugs come looking later when they realize that her apartment number “6” looks like a “9” when it swings around as it is apt to do. They get brutal – they end up dead – so what does a sweet young thing do with two dead bodies and a box full of money in her apartment. Before this long day comes to a close she has more bodies that she has to deal with along with a bunch of killers who want their money back and a nosy neighbor who comes closer than she knows to the end of a sharp blade.
Other than the manic layers of complications that build up like a house of cards ready to collapse, one of the joys of the film is watching the Buster Keaton dead pan expressions of Tum as her whole world is flipped on its head in the blink of a knock on her door. In the middle of all of this chaos that has found her, she retains her quiet calm and steadfastly follows her plan to extricate herself from all this, almost oblivious to the danger she is in. As the film progresses she shows a surprising and unflinching toughness within; this ex-office girl has the heart of a tiger. In a sense, she represents the “everyman” in a Thailand that is reeling from various economic blows, but has to find a way to survive and forge ahead and she grabs a “gift” without thinking of the consequences – but nothing comes for free. Director Pen-ek Ratanaruang shows a very fluid style here and displays an able hand at finding dark humor in rather grim circumstances - an ability that he brought forth again for his 2001 film Monrak Transistor.

The VCD from Edko has English subtitles but the transfer is fullscreen.

My rating for this films: 7.5