Alex Moebius

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Tropical Malady Review


Excellent
At first I thought that I had some difficulty decoding the many levels of Thai mythology and allegory in Apichatpong Weerasethakul's wonderfully mysterious and beautiful Tropical Malady simply because I'm a Westerner. But now I think that even Thai moviegoers may be a bit baffled by this one. In fact, the only people who may have understood it are the members of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival jury (helmed by Quentin Tarantino), who gave it the Jury Prize. But I'm not sure they quite got it either.

The literal translation of "Sud Pralad," the Thai title of Tropical Malady, is "strange animal," and it's a good choice. This movie is indeed one strange animal, and it's full of strange animals, from sick dogs and ghost cows to talking baboons. But before we see all that we meet the young farmhand Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee) and his friend, the soldier Keng (Banlop Lomnoi), whose friendship blossoms into a kind of effortless love that's nothing short of charming. We follow the two around Thailand on their daily rounds, from the forest to the shopping malls and pool halls and movie theaters of Bangkok. They play little games of slap and tickle. Keng gives Tong a Clash tape and later says, "When I gave you the tape I forgot to give you my heart. You can have it today." Awwww. It's a slow, documentary-like courtship.

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Tropical Malady Movie Review

Tropical Malady Movie Review

At first I thought that I had some difficulty decoding the many levels of Thai...

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