DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
BLISSFULLY YOURS (Sud sanaeha) (director/writer: Apichatpong Weerasethakul; cinematographer: Sayombhu Mukdeeprom; editor: Lee Chatametikool; cast: Kanokporn Tongaram (Roong), Min Oo (Min), Jenjira Jansuda (Orn); Runtime: 125; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Eric Chan/Charles de Meaux; Strand Releasing; 2002-Thailand-in Thai and Burmese with English subtitles)

 
"Nothing much happens that usually goes for a film plot, though in real life this simplistic dreamy scenario is very believable."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The second feature by Apichatpong Weerasethakul ("Mysterious Object at Noon"/"Tropical Malady"/"Syndromes and a Century"), a 34-year-old Thailand-born graduate of the Chicago Art Institute, is a deadpan funny experimental film that leaves the viewer lost in the woods with its three protagonists, thinking there must be more to this picnic in the jungle pic than meets the eye. 

The film is set along the Thai-Burmese border in the northwest (shot in the Thai city of Khon Kaen). The gangly, laconic and skittish Min is an illegal immigrant from Burma in need of a fake ID to get a health certificate in order to find work. He's first seen being treated by a doctor for a worsening skin rash. He's accompanied there by his childishly playful girlfriend Roong, who works in a factory hand-painting figurines. Also accompanying them is the older middle-aged married Orn, who has been hired by Roong to get Min the illegal ID. Orn has been a long time patient of the doctor, who prescribed for her anti-stress pills, but won't bend the law to issue the health certificate until Min shows her his ID.

Roong checks out of work for the afternoon, sure she's going to soon quit her job. She borrows Orn's car and rides off to the desolate but lush jungle for a picnic with Min, where she yearns to hold him. Min takes her to his favorite spot, where the view is idyllic. The only thing that spoils their bliss is the invasion of red ants, which they are busy clearing off from their food. Meanwhile the not too attractive Orn is unglamorously screwing her lover in a different spot in the jungle. When they finish humping, the lover hears someone stealing his motorbike and chases after the unseen culprit. He never returns. So Orn wanders through the woods and by chance locates Roong and Min by a stream, after she just finished giving her fellow a blow job. No one talks much, as Roong playfully brings Orn into the stream and then returns to fondle Min's cock and lie quietly looking up at the clear sky. Nothing much happens that usually goes for a film plot, though in real life this simplistic dreamy scenario is very believable. 

The film, in its light mood, takes its cues from the straightforward Min, whose diary notes and sketches are sometimes superimposed over the images. It's interesting to note that the credits don't appear until some 45 minutes later after the opening scene of Min's visit to the doctor. For those looking for some deeper meaning there are hints thrown out that there just may be some political backdrop hidden under the surface for the more perceptive viewer, such as Roong is a member of the Karen ethnic group (a hill tribe people in the area who have been involved in human-rights struggles with both Thailand and Burma), the Thai economy can be seen as shaky, and the reason for the Burmese refugees might be because of the Burmese military junta causing the collapse of Burma's economy. But this film is really not political, but about one being astute enough to celebrate the pleasures of the moment if the opportunity arises.

REVIEWED ON 2/11/2008        GRADE: A

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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