6.4/10
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13 user 17 critic

The Elephant King (2006)

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2:16 | Trailer

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The story of two brothers who lead totally different lives. Jake Hunt enjoys life to the fullest in Thailand, while his shy brother Oliver deals with his own depressions back home in the ... See full summary »

Director:

Seth Grossman

Writer:

Seth Grossman
8 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ellen Burstyn ... Diana Hunt
Tate Ellington ... Oliver Hunt
Florence Faivre ... Lek
Jonno Roberts ... Jake Hunt
Josef Sommer ... Bill Hunt
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Debra Azar ... Linda
Natalie Carter ... Restaurant Manager
Joe Cummings ... Drug dealer
Georgia Hatzis ... Leah
Thanawut Ketsaro Thanawut Ketsaro ... Nong
Pawarith Monkolpisit Pawarith Monkolpisit ... Daeng (as Pawalit Mongkolpisit)
Michael Pand Michael Pand ... Helmut
Porntip Papanai Porntip Papanai ... No. 49
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Storyline

The story of two brothers who lead totally different lives. Jake Hunt enjoys life to the fullest in Thailand, while his shy brother Oliver deals with his own depressions back home in the USA. Their dominant mother wants Jake back home and for this reason, Oliver is sent to Thailand to retrieve his brother. Once there, Oliver finds himself in Jake's bizarre life and falls in love with a beautiful girl, Lek. However, it is not a coincidence that she and Oliver have met. Written by Rene Tran-Guillot

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, drug use, language and some violence | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | Thailand

Language:

English | Thai

Release Date:

15 January 2009 (Thailand) See more »

Also Known As:

Summer in Siam See more »

Filming Locations:

Chiang Mai, Thailand See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,959, 17 October 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$21,298, 26 October 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Thai title, "Ruedu hang rak" translates as "Season of Love". See more »

Soundtracks

Take Care
Written by Yo La Tengo
Performed by Wade Barrett
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User Reviews

 
The expat experience in Thailand
18 June 2006 | by turnpikeSee all my reviews

A young New Yorker travels to Chiang Mai on an anthropological research grant and quickly loses himself in drink, drugs and loose women. Sound familiar? Substitute gender, nationality and mission as needed, and this plot could be about many foreigners who arrive in Thailand intent on noble causes and find themselves a bit distracted.

The Elephant King was shot almost entirely on location in and around Chiang Mai, Thailand's northern capital, and one of the film's primary characters is Chiang Mai itself. A montage of muddy city walls and steaming moats, 7-Elevens and abandoned housing estates, Space Bubble disco and Wat Chet Yot, night markets and old wooden houses, the city's paradoxical grit and grace have never before been so well-captured in any feature film, Thai or international. The script in fact turns Chiang Mai into a microcosm of Thailand, thrusting Western stereotypes about the country to the fore - and then turning them inside out.

But the core story isn't about Chiang Mai or Thailand at all, but about Jake (Jonno Roberts) and Oliver (Tate Ellingham), two brothers locked in a bully-victim relationship which both are struggling to transcend. Expat life in Chiang Mai, and their competing love for the same bar girl (Florence Vanida Faivre) merely serve as catalysts for the relationship to achieve its bloody catharsis.

Several parts of the film, including the opening sequence, were shot in New York and include memorable performances from Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) and Josef Sommer (The Enemy Within, An American Story), playing the brothers' parents, Diane and Bill. As a father envious of his sons' carousing in Thailand, Sommer provides several of the film's best comedic moments. Burstyn shines during her time on film, playing the weepy, overly-doting mother with textbook technique.

Because co-producer DeWarrenne Pictures is a Thai-registered company, the screenplay did not need advance government approval. This means we get an unvarnished - if somewhat Western-orientated - look at Thai culture and society. If and when the film does receive distribution in Thailand, there's a good chance some scenes will be censored for depictions of drug use and sex, even though these elements are neither overly graphic nor gratuitous to the story.

Although this is writer/director Seth Grossman's first feature film, I'd say chances are good to excellent that the effort will be well received critically. The film pegs Grossman - an NYU film grad who loosely based the movie on his own experiences living in Chiang Mai as a Princeton-in-Asia scholar four years ago - as something of a story-telling genius.

His art film attitude - which is thankfully more substance than pose - is ably assisted by the intense cinematography of Diego Quemada, a disciple and close associate of camera wunderkind Rodrigo Prieto of 21 Grams fame. Whether or not the film does well commercially, The Elephant King could easily reap a few international film festival awards, perhaps even becoming an underground classic along the lines of Trainspotting.


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