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Mundane History (Premiere in Paris)

Wednesday 4 August 2010, by Abla Kandalaft

Mundane History is Thai director Anocha Suwichakornpong’s first feature film and was part of this year’s competition. Winner of 2 best feature film awards at the 2010 International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Transilvania International Film Festival, it explores the relationship between Ake, a young man paralysed from the waist down, his male nurse and his father. Beyond this, in terms of plot, nothing much happens. Ake reveals his resentment towards his father through few well-chosen words and gestures of defiance. His attitude to Pun oscillates between gentle mockery and irritation and develops into something slightly warmer towards the end. Essentially, the focus is on the uneasy interactions within that triangle.

Occasionally, the film topples into another, completely surrealist dimension. Dreamscape? Ake’s subconscious? Visions? Ecstasy overdose? Not althogether particularly clear, but it doesn’t matter. We are treated to visually stunning scenes of the galaxy. It’s all bright colours and patterns amplified by a hypnotic soundtrack courtesy of Malaysian band Furniture and Thai band the Photo Sticker Machine.
On the whole, this is a beautiful and at times awkward film. The unsual, very irregular rythm of it -long silences and explosive moments- seems to be the source of its success; it is what makes us empathise with Ake’s frustration, what makes us feel uneasy at the characters’ interactions and what draws us in during those extatic dreamlike sequences.

The film is slow and the scenes are long-drawn so it should work best on those viewers not pressed for time, and not too fussy regarding plot development. This is a film for those cinema lovers who relish sinking slowly in their seats for any number of hours and allow the images to unfold at whatever pace the director chose to impose. Mundane History is at its best on the big screen, it probably wouldn’t have the same effect during a DVD or a half arsed viewing on ovguide, interrupted by various doodles and tea breaks.

The film will be released in Bangkok on 5 August 2010 at SFX Cinema, The Emporium.

Read the Q and A with director Anocha Suwichakornpong in Unexplored: Q and As section.

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