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Fringe Report is now closed. Fringe Report closed on its 10th anniversary, Thursday 12 July 2012. It remains online as a record of 10 exciting years in the arts. Till July 2013, previously unwritten content is being added to the site from the past 10 years, but we are no longer reviewing new material. You can still write to us on the existing email addresses. Good luck with your shows.
Loong Boonmee Raleuk Chat (2010) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Verdict: Love beyond life and death
Huay (Natthakarn Aphaiwonk) is the loving wife of Boonmee (Thanapat Saisaymar), and comes to visit him. It's 19 years since they saw each other. Their son Boonsong (Geerasak Kulhong) joins them. He disappeared 13 years ago. Out on the porch of their house in the country they look through family photos, in the company of Huay's sister Auntie Jen (Jenjira Pongpas) and Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee); Boonmee's worker Jaai (Samud Kugasang) is there too.
The light is too bright for Boonsong, whose red pupils are dilated. That's because he's now a Monkey Ghost, having had sex with another Monkey Ghost. Huay is still 42 just as she was when she last met Boonmee - that's how old she was when she died. She's particularly interested to see the photos of her funeral. She's Jen's older sister, but Jen's still alive, and is now older than Huay.
Jen's a pretty older woman who usually keeps her black hair in a bun. She walks with a limp and a stick, and wears a built-up shoe. She lives in a small flat in the city, but has travelled out to visit Boonmee - he's ill with kidney problems. She's brought Tong to look after him. Jaai carefully and regularly changes Boonmee's dialysis equipment. He's a perhaps illegal immigrant from Laos, having swum the Mekong; soon he must leave to be with his woman friend in the city.
Boonmee knows that he is dying - that's why Huay and Boonsong have come to be with him. But how will he find his beloved Huay in heaven? Heaven is over-rated, Huay says, there's nothing there. And anyway, she explains, ghosts don't associate with places, they associate with people. They'll find each other.
Boonmee's been careful to carry out Huay's wishes and introduce beehives on their land. The workers prune the tamarind trees against worm and dung beetle. Jen and Boonmee relax in the orchard, and taste the honey's flavour - tamarind and maize. As Boonmee declines, city-woman Jen adjusts to the noise of the jungle, and the country life of ghosts and insects. It's karma, says Boonmee - he killed so many communists (in the 20th Century war); and a lot of bugs on the farm - now it's his turn. Not so, says Jen, it depends on your intentions, and yours were good - you killed the commies (her word) for the sake of the nation.
Jen relaxes into an erotic fantasy seeing herself as a princess (Wallapa Mongkolprasert) carried through the woods on a sedan chair by handsome bearers. Rejecting the love of one her soldiers (Sumit Suebsee) she gazes into the pool of a waterfall at her reflection as a younger woman - an image created in homage to her by an admiring, huge and potent catfish. Entering the water, she offers her jewellery and self to the fish. In their threshing, ecstatic sex she moves towards another form of existence.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul directs his own script in a remarkable story which spans across species - human, monkey, fish, dog, bee, cow, insect; people - legals, illegals, communists, soldiers, civilians, young, old; life-worlds - the living, the dead. There are clever levels being worked - people seeing ghosts easily in the country is not much different to believing in television images in the city, the story suggests; the Monkey Ghost with its red eyes and frightening appearance is not much different to the communist from the war years, the illegal immigrant of today - all can be demonised as 'the other'.
And it's a romance. 'I was so embarrassed when you appeared last night' confides Boonmee to Huay as she changes his dialysis bag and notes the time in his medical log, for all as if she wasn't a ghost. He's embarrassed because he's so much older now than when she was alive. At the centre of the story (and its gently optimistic conclusion) is their touching and enduring love.
Cast Credits: (alpha order): Natthakarn Aphaiwonk - Huay (Boonmee's Wife). Sakda Kaewbuadee - Tong. Geerasak Kulhong - Boonsong (Boonmee's Son). Samud Kugasang - Jaai (Boonmee's chief worker). Wallapa Mongkolprasert - Princess. Vien Pimdee - Farmer. Jenjira Pongpas - Jen. Thanapat Saisaymar - Boonmee. Sumit Suebsee - Soldier. Kanokporn Thongaram - Roong (Jen's friend in hotel). (Source - Producer's Notes at 7 October 2010).
Company Credits: Director - Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Writer - Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Producer - Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Producer - Simon Field. Producer - Keith Griffiths. Producer - Charles de Meaux. Producer - Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Co-Producer - Hans W Geissendoerfer. Co-Producer - Luis Miñarro. Co-Producer - Michael Weber. Associate Producer - Caroleen Feeney. Associate Producer - Joslyn Barnes. Associate Producer - Danny Glover (Louverture Films). Associate Producer - Holger Stern(ZDF/Arte). Director of Photography - Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. Director of Photography - Yukontorn Mingmongkon. Director of Photography - Charin Pengpanich. Production Designer - Akekarat Homlaor. Sound Designer - Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr. Sound Designer - Koichi Shimizu. Editor and Post Supervisor - Lee Chatametikool. Assistant Director and Line Producer - Suchada Sirithanawuddhi. Production Manager - Yaowalak Sae-Khow. Assistant Production Manager - Narongwit Chanpan. 2nd Assistant Director - Yingsiwat Yamolyong. 2nd Assistant Director - Thanachart Siripatrachai. Production Assistant - Sorayos Prapapan. Casting - Panjai Sirisuvan. Casting - Sakda Kaewbuadee. Acting Coach - Onwarin Niyomsataya. Location - Panithan Pisittakarn. Account Administrator - Parichat Puarree. Prop Master - Nitipong Thintubthai. Costume Designer - Chatchai Chaiyon. Costume Assistants - Buangoen Ngamcharoenputtasri. Pattarachanon Keawkong. Special Make Up - Achawan Pupawan. Continuity - Kavis Kaveeravitorn. Sound Recordist - Chalermrat Kaweewattana. Still Photographer - Nontawat Numbenchapol. Nabua Photographer - Chayaporn Maneesutham. Nabua Photographer - Chaisiri Jiwarangsan. Company - llluminations Films. Company - A Kick the Machine Films (Thailand). Company - Illuminations Films Past Lives (UK). Company - Anna Sanders Films (France). Company - The Match Factory (Germany). Company - GFF Geissendoerfer Film-und Fernsehproduktion KG (Germany). Company - Eddie Saeta SA (Spain). With Participation Of - Fonds Sud Cinéma . With Participation Of - Ministère de la culture et de la communication CNC . With Participation Of - Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et Europé ennes (France). With Support Of - World Cinema Fund (Germany). With Support Of - The Hubert Bals Fund. With Support Of - International Film Festival Rotterdam (Netherlands). With Support Of - Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture (Thailand). In Association With - ZDF/Arte (Germany). In Association With - Louverture Films (USA). In Association With - Haus der Kunst, Munich (Germany). In Association With - FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) Liverpool (UK). In Association With - Animate Projects, London (UK). Countries - UK/ Thailand/ Germany/ France/ Spain. Year - 2010 . Running Time - 113 minutes. Medium - 35mm. Ratio - 1:185. Colour - Colour. Sound - Dolby SRD. Language - Thai. (Source - Producer's Notes at 7 October 2010)
reviewed Thursday 7 October 2010 / Press screening / NFT3, National Film Theatre, London UK
Note: IMDB reference page is www.imdb.com/title/tt1588895/
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