One Take Only

Director: Oxide Pang
Stars: Pawarit Mongkolpisit, Wanatchada Siwapornchai
Time: 88 minutes
Year: 2003

An Oxide Pang film is always a treat visually and this is no exception. One would think that he suffers from some sort of rare instance of sensatory attention deficit after watching this film. He seems bored if any two scenes in a row have the same look to them and so he is constantly playing with the hues, the lighting, the speed, the angles as much to amuse himself as the audience. And to some degree it works. For example there is one scene in which the two protagonists finally have the mandatory sex scene – but Pang films it in such a way that the coupling runs along the bottom of the screen, goes vertical, upside down and all over the place completely disorienting the viewer, but giving it a small sense of wonder – that’s how sex should be! As much as his film tricks entertain, they can’t completely hide the fact that there is very little going on in this film. But the lackadaisical pacing of the film until it finally verges towards near the end on a plot of sorts is part of its charm. Still from time to time you have to ask yourself, why am I interested in these people and what goes on in their lives  - and there is really no answer. Yet his visuals make the film compelling and its short running time blows by very quickly.

Bank (Pawarit Mongkolpisit - the assassin in Bangkok Dangerous) is a small time slacker drug dealer who fantasizes about being a tough guy but on the one occasion when he tries to be he gets his butt handed to him and has to be rescued by the diminutive Som (Wanatchada Siwapornchai) who quick thinkingly puts some bricks into her bag and uses it as an assault weapon to beat off four guys. The two strike up a friendship and learn that they live in the same building. What he doesn’t know is that she is also a prostitute who arrives at work in her school uniform and makes enough money to pay for school and to send some home. Pang makes it clear that he is at odds with the material youth in Thailand – in one almost cinematic aside he stops the film to show a poor young girl selling flowers on the street to cars passing by and when one car stops this barefooted urchin just stares inside at a girl of her own age who has everything while she has nothing.
This materialism also drives our loving couple into a few errors of judgment. They fantasize about what they would do with a lot of money and it all comes down to new clothes and a cool cell phone. So Bank decides to push the envelope in his drug dealings and go for bigger and potentially more dangerous payoffs – and soon they are swimming in money and living good – but one has to wonder how long before the hammer comes down on them. Both actors give if not technically good performances – likeable ones and in particular Wanatchada is a sweetie.

My rating for this film: 6.0