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A young girl pretending to be the deceased granddaughter of an ailing grandmother begins experiencing horrific visions of the dead granddaughter, causing her to slowly succumb to the insanity of illusion and reality merging.
Somchai (Pierre Png), a debt-ridden gambling addict, goes to the top of a building to commit suicide and finds a young woman, Go-go (Arisara Wongchalee), standing on the ledge ready to do the same. Rather than going through with the plans for death, the two talk and decide that there's nothing they can't do, since they had decided to die. So they embark on a crime spree, starting out by eating in a restaurant and not paying the bill, then stealing a car and crashing it for fun. They rob a convenience store, and are pursued by the police, and the gangsters Somchai pursue the couple as well. Written by
The Pang Brothers have shot to fame over the past few years with their energetic film-making that seems to revitalise genres that have been flagging in recent years. In particular, Bangkok Dangerous and The Eye have been huge hits. Their background as editors on some of Hong Kong's top action titles clearly shows in their visually kinetic film making style. NOTHING TO LOSE is the solo directorial debut of the less interestingly named half of the twins, Danny Pang.
Somchai meets Go Go on a Bangkok rooftop, where both are planning to make the ultimate jump and escape their problems in life. Somehow they manage to talk each other out of it and go for food instead, where they learn that when you've reached the point where death holds no fear there's nothing left to stop you doing almost anything in life. This starts them off on an adventure full of mayhem, with nothing to lose.
NOTHING TO LOSE has all the visual style of the Pang Brothers other works, with cinematography that owes a lot to Christopher Doyle and MTV. Unfortunately it starts with a bit of a whimper, with some poorly dubbed and terribly cheesy dialogue that makes it look like you're in for an "all style, no brains" experience. Thankfully, the opening proves to be rather a red herring in a film that becomes progressively more complex, unusual and compelling as it goes on. Danny Pang creates a couple of complex characters, and as both story and backstory are revealed we are drawn into an increasingly rich situation and connect more with the protagonists.
The film was introduced at the SF International Film Festival as "a remake of Natural Born Killers", which is one of the more vacuous observations I've heard about a Thai film (why is it at these fests the people that introduce the films always try to compare them to American films anyway?). Certainly there are elements in common, but these become less and less as the film progresses.
The greatest strength of the film is not Danny Pang's writing or visual flair though, it's actress Fresh, who is ravishing, wild and utterly compelling to watch in an all-out performance. Dressed in a sequence of wigs and bold outfits she would leave a lasting impression on any male mind, and the rather geeky Somchai is helplessly in her thrall. Singaporean actor Pierre Png looks good but is rather flat as an actor (which is perhaps appropriate for the role) and suffers a lot from being dubbed into Thai. The supporting cast is good, but everybody is outshone by Fresh (incidentally, this was her first film role).
NOTHING TO LOSE is a film that transcends its premise and beginnings, and ultimately offers a lot to look at, enjoy and even think about afterwards. It should be a successful film in the west, but the lack of a subtitled home video release will doubtless prevent that for the moment.
Recommended if you get the chance to see it with subtitles
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