(rewatch) - Tum (Lalita Panyopas) has just been laid off from her job at a finance bank. She was chosen by bad luck of the draw. Luck steps in again when a ramen noodle box is left on doorstep. Because the "6" on her apartment door keeps falling down so it looks like a "9", the package was left there by mistake. Inside is $25,000 in Thai baht. And a whole mess of trouble. Now a fight fixer (Black Phomtong) and his gang of hoods are looking for their money, and Tum gets deeper and deeper into an awful situation. She can't even rely on her flighty friend (Tasanawalai Ongartittichai) to help her out... she's in this mess on her own, and she's in it up to her eyeballs.
I hate to just repeat my past mini-reviews, but this film is indeed reminiscent of A Simple Plan
with Tarantino-esque black comedy. There are fun stylistic flourishes like fantasy sequences and point of view shots... they make for fine additions without being overused. The plot drives the film, an intricate web of circumstance and coincidence, fate dropping a big pile of bad mojo in Tum's lap. It's a very fun watch, with humor being held back until the right moment to relieve the growing tension.
On my old 10-point scale (which I'm thinking of going back to, but that's a whole can of worms I don't wanna think about right now) I gave this film an 8 on my first viewing, and bumped it up to a 9 on the second. I was right the first time. Like I said, the movie is really enjoyable, a lively blend of neo-noir and black comedy. But there are some imperfections. I can't decide whether to call Panyopas's performance "wooden" or "restrained". Throughout the film she barely registers any emotion, and the one moment when she breaks down is a welcome turn. But we have little feeling for the character. Does this represent a sharp moral decline for her, or did she have it in her all along? While I can appreciate an attempt to keep a character enigmatic -- as well as a Kati Outinen style deadpan performance -- without many ethical reference points (an early scene shows her being mildly hesitant about shoplifting), we don't know what all this really means to her. And thus the film becomes much more about the clever and surprising plotting than the character. The ending -- which infuriated at least one IMDb reviewer -- comes off as a thematic convenience rather than a genuine resolution to her arc. I would also say some of the Tarantino-isms are a bit too tongue-in-cheek, especially regarding the gangsters. I don't want to give anything away, but the climax just feels like a ripoff.
Why do I gripe so much about movies I generally enjoy? I guess I'm hedging against disagreement. Bad habit. This is
a really compelling story, and despite (or maybe because of) her woodenness, Panyopas has a certain presence to her that makes her very watchable... again, like Outinen. There are plenty of laughs and plenty of shocks to be had. It's just not as great as I rated it last time. Rating: Very Good (85)
I hope my focus on the negatives doesn't discourage anyone from seeking this out. I think most folks here would like it.