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'Tropical Malady' explores the passionate relationship between two men with unusual consequences. The film is divided in two parts. The first half charts the modest attraction between two men in the sunny, relaxing countryside and the second half charts the confusion and terror of an unknown menace lurking deep within the jungle shadows. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
"Tropical Malady" by Thai film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a haunting film that at times seems impenetrable. The director has played a trick on the viewer by changing the mood and the pace right in the middle of the film. We are led to believe that the soldier and the young man that are clearly attracted to each other will go on to share a life together, but no, Mr. Weerasethakul takes us to the jungle where the soldier is trying to catch the elusive and beautiful tiger.
"Tropical Malady" has been promoted as a gay film, which in a way, it is, but basically it presents a mystery that is never solved, although we know that in this case, the soldier is so obsessed with his opponent that they end up respecting one another.
My only reservation with the film is the editing. It could have used a bit of cutting to make it more accessible. As a point of interest, films like this one tends to irritate viewers and one watches as how a theater empties out because people don't want to sit through any more. On the case of "Tropical Malady" no one walked out, which perhaps it's saying a lot for a film that can tax the viewer's patience.
The jungle scenes at night are magnificently executed and perhaps the director will have more success with his future undertakings as he shows a sure hand in his direction.
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