Blissfully Yours (2002, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

After Syndromes and Uncle Boonmee I thought okay, now I’ve got a handle on this Weerasethakul fellow, got a general idea what his movies are like. This one proved me wrong. It’s got the long static shots, and scenes where characters don’t seem to be doing or thinking much, but it has more of these than the others (maybe not more than Tropical Malady, which I haven’t seen since it came out). One of those movies with a slow, slow build-up to a transcendent finale, though it doesn’t feel that way while you’re watching it.

Orn’s hands:

Orn (an older woman), Roong (younger woman) and Min (illegal immigrant pretending to be mute) are the leads. No exposition, so it takes me the first 45 minutes to figure out their names and what they do and how they know each other, more or less. Min and Roong go on a trip into the forest then suddenly, a pop song and the opening titles – halfway through the movie. And now we can hear his thoughts.

Min and Roong:

Orn and some man (not her husband?) also escape into the forest, and much explicit sex follows. Orn seems to be in trouble then – her man chases motorbike thieves off-camera and we hear a gunshot, which she does not investigate. She stumbles across the other couple and they manage to have a damned nice time splashing in the river, before drying their clothes, dumping their litter (Orn chucks it right into the river) and heading home. Weirdly peaceful/happy film.

Roong (actress/character) also appeared in Uncle Boonmee – I don’t remember her, but it’s sometime after the funeral – and Orn appeared in Luminous People.

Min’s drawing:

NY Times with more specific insight: “There’s a suggestion that Roong is a member of the Karen ethnic group, a hill tribe people who live in northern Thailand and eastern Burma and have been involved in human-rights struggles with both countries. Like Min, whose skin rash probably developed after he hid from the police in a septic tank, she enters the forest like a refugee.”