Striking with a pose
Tang Wong is more than a film about teenagers trying to master a simple dance, it explores colossal themes about politics and what it means to be Thai in an age of conflict
How frustrating it is to get stuck in the middle _ limbo _ somewhere between the past that hasn't been forgotten and the future that hasn't yet arrived. How sad to think we're adults when we're just children who dream of advancement, of reason, of democracy, of being something else we're probably not ready to be (though we're trying hard to be), something we struggle to grasp the basics of, like a runner with one shoe, or a dancer clumsily scrambling to get into her first pose. What's worse, we realise, is that as we're fighting to move forward, deep-seated fears, doubts and mental weaknesses hold us back and convince us that our will alone, or our human power and ability alone, is never enough and we're condemned to forever rely on something invisible, something divine, something supernatural, something we're not sure we believe in yet have no choice but to keep believing.
Starring Somphop Sitthiajarn, Siripat Kuhawichanatn, Nattasit Kotimanaswanich, Anawach Patanawanitkul, Natarat Lekha. Directed by Kongdej Jaturanrasmee. In Thai with English subtitles.
In short: Thailand _ a still-developing, or eternally-developing nation torn between the sweet fantasy of progress and a reality that's sour and pungent. In the ambitious, smart, good-humoured, symbolic, uneven, imperfect Thai film Tang Wong, director Kongdej Jaturanrasmee uses his small characters to expound on something colossal: what it is to be Thai at this moment in history. The movie, which opens this week, strives to connect many dots and to elevate the prosaic into the metaphorical as the microcosm of the characters gives way to the big picture _ so big that it includes, for the first time on the cinema screen, scenes of the convulsive red-shirt riots and a skilful reconstruction of the war zone that Bangkok briefly was in May 2010. Kongdej tackles the zeitgeist and the fossilised, the mind and the matter, the political and the personal, with the conclusion that they're all probably the same.
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