Every relationship has an expiration date. Every relationship needs its fantasies...some more real than others... A violent death of a relative brings Wit and his wife, Dang, back to ... See full summary »
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Sawatwong Palakawong Na Autthaya
Every relationship has an expiration date. Every relationship needs its fantasies...some more real than others... A violent death of a relative brings Wit and his wife, Dang, back to Bangkok from America, where they own a Thai restaurant, for the first time in 7 years. As soon as they arrive in Bangkok at 5.30 am. Wit and Dang check into a five-star hotel downtown. Wit finds out that he is out of cigarettes once they are inside the room. He goes down to the lobby bar. After getting his pack of cigarette from the bartender Wit decides to order a cup of coffee and smoke his cigarette there. The girl from the table in the dark corner comes to Wit to ask if she could borrow his lighter. Wit hands her his lighter. Then she asks if she could borrow one cigarette too. The girl sits down and lights up one of his cigarettes and they somehow strike up a conversation. Wit learns that her name is PLOY. This is how our little tale of love and jealousy begins. A highly detailed psychological drama ... Written by
Reviewed at its North American Premiere screening Sept. 7, 2007 at the Scotiabank Theatre as part of the Visions Program during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's "Ploy" has been one of our favourites at TIFF this year. The film has a very sly and often languid build-up to various shocks as it unfolds. I'm not going to spoil those for anyone by saying too much here.
The film's setup is that a man Wit (who runs a restaurant in America) and his wife Dang (a former well known actress) are returning to Thailand after an absence of 10 years to attend a funeral. They are staying at a Bangkok hotel and while the wife settles into their room the husband goes down to the bar for cigarettes. There he meets a backpacking teenager named Ploy who evokes his sympathy (she has a black eye, possibly from an abusive boyfriend, and she is also from his hometown of Phuket) and without any apparent sexual scheming he simply invites the girl back up to the hotel room to rest up while she awaits her mother's arrival.
The wife doesn't take kindly to this intrusion and the teenager is taken aback as well ("You didn't tell me your girlfriend was going to be here!"). The comic absurdity of this setup gradually starts taking a darker turn with petty theft, suspicions of adultery and possible murders and rapes entering the storyline before we're done. Meanwhile a maid and bartender at the hotel are having a mysterious sexy assignation simultaneous to the main plot line and Dang's former acting history also attracts the attentions of a stalker. How these different plot strands intertwine and tangle and then untangle and resolve themselves was a pleasure to watch. The film started with the most basic of elements and then let you think you knew where it is going before it pulled the rug out from under you several times.
Actress Lalita Panyopas (from 1999's "Ruang talok 69") makes a welcome return in the role of Dang to director Ratanaruang's ensemble. I was also happy to see a bright clear picture in the print of "Ploy" after last year's TIFF print of "Invisible Waves" was muddy and dark.
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