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Predominance of flashbacks, comparing 15 years ago with nowadays, showing off that the film makers "can". Revealing the actual purpose at the end is too late and too little
I saw this film at the Rotterdam film festival 2014, as a candidate for the official Tiger Award competition. For the greater part of the running time, I was under the impression that the film maker was so much obsessed with bridging 15 years, showing "before" and "after" in many scenes, that he neglected a coherent binding element. The plot is simple: a sudden suicide of family father and company owner brings people together who did not see each other for 10 to 15 years, while living in different countries.
Matt returns from the US, requested by his younger brother Nic, who is unable to cope with the business aspects of his father's life, and feels useless to assist the authorities in unraveling the reasons behind the suicide. A parallel story line enfolds when Matt attempts to re-connect with a former girl friend. She takes her time before they really meet, which may be the prime reason that Matt extends his stay in Thailand, though telling his wife in the US about the sorry state of the business his father left behind.
Much of the film's running time is devoted to reliving past memories. There is a parallel story line about Nic and his girl friend, also with references to things that happened in the past, but the nature of their problems is a bit sketchy. All these reasons lead to showing us two time periods in parallel, with much of the running time devoted to their younger years, visualized in the form of TV shows and parties, in colors and fashion that we recognize from that period. I found those flashbacks distracting from the actual story line. It seems that the film maker was taken away by the understandable practical challenges in shooting those scenes, hence unable to sufficiently trim away that part of the footage.
Luckily, the real story resurfaced as intended all along, but only in the end and I found it too little too late. One of the final scenes happens in a repossessed apartment, of which Matt's former girl friend apparently still has the keys. That is the place where she and Matt intend to finalize the evening, and sex is obviously in the air. What happens there, says it all, later on enlightened by her monologue about how they all have changed in 15 years time. Attempts to reconnect may be pleasant but futile in the long run, due to those differences accrued in the mean time.
The final Q&A with the director confirms the previous paragraph. It is a pity that it took me so long before grasping the actual theme of the movie: shifting love, gap in cultures, separate career paths, and so on, are the most important ingredients. In hindsight, the film title tells it all: it originated from memories when the film maker came back from US to Thailand, at a moment that the financial crisis hit the country the most. He had an impression of clouds of unfinished concrete (building operations halted for some time). Simultaneously he had to deal with skeletons of past love. Finally, he mentioned that making this film was not easy, as the city changed a lot in 15 years time, and thus he had difficulties while shooting to create the proper setting. All pro's and con's combined, I scored a 3 (average) for the audience award when leaving the theater. I may have been too positive, since this film ranked a lowly 135th place (out of 200).
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