7.3/10
3,402
26 user 97 critic

Tropical Malady (2004)

Sud pralad (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy, Romance | 24 November 2004 (France)
A romance between a soldier and a country boy, wrapped around a Thai folk-tale involving a shaman with shape-shifting abilities.

On Disc

at Amazon

6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Story about director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's parents who were both doctors, and director's memories about growing up in the hospital environment.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Nantarat Sawaddikul, Jaruchai Iamaram, Sophon Pukanok
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The story of a love affair that begins during a picnic on the Thai-Burmese border.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Kanokporn Tongaram, Min Oo, Jenjira Pongpas
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

On his deathbed, Uncle Boonmee recalls his many past lives.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Thanapat Saisaymar, Jenjira Pongpas, Sakda Kaewbuadee
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

This film is an experimental mix of documentary and fiction. The film crew travels from the Thai countryside to Bangkok, asking the people they encounter along the way to continue a story ... See full summary »

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Djuangjai Hirunsri, Kongkiat Khomsiri, Saisiri Xoomsai
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

A transvestite secret agent is sent on a mission to the Thai countryside.

Directors: Michael Shaowanasai, Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Siriyakorn Pukkavesh, Michael Shaowanasai, Krissada Sukosol
Mekong Hotel (2012)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Shifting between fact and fiction in a hotel situated along the Mekong River, a film-maker rehearses a movie expressing the bonds between a vampiric mother and daughter.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A group of soldiers in a small town on the Mekong River in northern Thailand are struck with a bizarre sleeping illness.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomnoi, Jarinpattra Rueangram
Drama | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

On a dark, wet night a historic and regal Chinese cinema sees its final film. Together with a small handful of souls they bid "Goodbye, Dragon Inn."

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Kiyonobu Mitamura
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
Directors: Ayisha Abraham, Chantal Akerman, and 4 more credits »
Stars: Shyam Bahadur, Jurandyr Ferreira, Sakda Kaewbuadee
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

After the Portuguese government demolishes his slum and relocates him to a housing project on the outskirts of Lisbon, 75-year-old Cape Verde immigrant Ventura wanders between his new and ... See full summary »

Director: Pedro Costa
Stars: Ventura, Vanda Duarte, Beatriz Duarte
Beau Travail (1999)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

This film focuses on an ex-Foreign Legion officer as he recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in Africa.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin
Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A filmmaker captures images that characterize the violence and repression as well as the hope of rebirth and remembrance in northeastern Thailand.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Kumgieng Jittamaat, Miti Jittamaat, Phetmongkol Chantawong
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Banlop Lomnoi ...
Keng
...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Huai Dessom
Sirivech Jareonchon
Udom Promma
Edit

Storyline

'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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

two parts | soldier | shaman | boy | thai | See All (192) »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

| | |

Language:

Release Date:

24 November 2004 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Tropical Malady  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was inspired by the adventure tales of Thai author Noi Intanon and by Jacques Tourneur, director of I Walked With a Zombie and the original Cat People. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
"A Film For The First People On Earth"
28 April 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A soldier named Keng, meets a young man named Tong in Thailand, the two begin a friendship. Keng makes constant sexual and amorous advances on Tong, who laughs them off, or makes a game out of them. He is never exactly interested, but never fully rebuffs either. The two make trips back and forth from the Jungle where Tong lives and Keng is on patrol with his military unit, to the city. We see the lush silent landscapes and the bustling city life, from dance hall karaoke to the cinema to the solitude of a quiet lake. When Keng finally makes a move in such a way, as to be beyond any doubt of a desire for intimacy (he kisses Tong's hands), Tong responds in turn by doing the same, and then walks into the darkness of the forest. Before Keng, can come to understand, the film takes a drastic turn in tone, style, and mood.

We are told by an interjected 3d person narrator the story of a shaman who is a shape-shifter known to take different animal forms, who used to roam the forest playing tricks on people. One day a cunning hunter, did not fall into a trick and shot him, mid transformation from woman into tiger. The spirit of the shaman was then stuck as half tiger half man and eternally doomed to stalk the forest; tricking and devouring all in it's path.

Keng, is then on patrol in his section of the forest, exploring rumors from villagers, about some "thing" killing cattle and causing general havoc. Alone on patrol in the woods, he becomes plagued by strange sounds, a sense of dread, and images of a naked boy, a tiger, spectral animals, and a glowing phosphorescent tree (which looks as beautiful as those in Aranofsky's "The Fountain"...I have no idea how they got that effect, on their budget, but it's miraculous...).

This second half of the film, of course calls into question our understanding of Keng and Tong's prior relationship (if Tong ever existed at all.). While part one, is reminiscent of a modern quirky love story like "Chungking Express", the second half is like Terrance Mallick shooting a remake of "Predator". All sense of time and space, is swallowed by the jungle, and implicit politics of the first half are turned inside out in the second half; it is literally cat and mouse, with the possibility that the cat may want to be eaten by the mouse, or vice versa.

The second half is also marked by the inclusion of tribal art and cave paintings, depicting the story of the shaman and the soldier, with sub-titles accompanying them. To paraphrase a description by director Weerasethakul it's like "a silent film for the first people on earth". And together with the visual effects, confident cinematography, clever use of editing, music, and sound, and disarming performances, it becomes magical. "Tropical Malady" combines the most modern and ancient notions of fear and desire, and makes something "new" out of them.

This is Thailand's "Solaris", a story of the changing shapes and forms of want and need, of being deceived and allowing yourself to be deceived by them. It's slow pace, forces reflection on questions like what form or body comprises love, is it purely physical or something more, is it perhaps deception itself, a fools errand we invent to forget the savagery of the jungle around us, is it the need to devour or be devoured? There's a Scottish legend called Tam Lin (one of my favorites), long story short, a woman falls in love with a faerie, and discovers he used to be a man, but made a deal with the faeries to serve them if they spared his life, after an accident. Tam tells the women she can restore his humanity and claim him, if when the faeries pass on Halloween night, she will wrap her arms around him and not let go no matter what happens. She does this, and the faeries transform him into all manner of creature, some hot, some cold, some thorny, others slimy, some which bite and claw, etc, but she holds on throughout all his changes, til eventually she finds herself just cradling a man. And the faeries begrudgingly let her keep him, because she held on to what she loved, despite the way it changed with time.

The film opens with these lines, "All of us are by nature wild beasts, our duty as human beings is to become like trainers, who keep their animals in check. And even teach them to perform tasks alien to their bestiality"-Tom Nakajima "Tropical Malady", is a good deal more ambiguous, I suspect more predatory and reflective as well, than Tam Lin, and comes from the opposite side of the world, but like that story manages to peculiarly harmonize emotional sensitivity and mythic scope, into a coherent whole.

I wished I would have paid more attention to Weerasethakul "Mysterious Object At Noon" the first time I had the chance, he has a talent for experimenting with narrative and style that is missing in many films endlessly praised these days. The phrase I kept hearing from other reviews or the one I liked the best was "If Brokeback Mountain, was a mountain on the island from "Lost"...it's callous, with a smidgen of truth, but this is a much better movie than that. It is very slow moving though, the first hour will give you no hint of the second half (other than a few visual ones, look at the various statues in the backgrounds, etc), but for the bold and the patient, there is lush hypnotic reward to be had.


10 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Love or Lust between the two? lovemedo-1
what a fantastic film sparlecki
Who is the smiling dude in the bathroom? PiranianRose
Commentary track Borowczyk76
Discuss Tropical Malady (2004) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?