Photo: doc of GDH, found here
Thailand | 2016 | 144 minutes | Director: Chanayop Boonprakob
I didn't plan to watch this movie. I was just going to meet up at a shopping center with a former editor of previous workplace. She's going to watch the movie and invited me to join her. I jumped at the opportunity, before having second thoughts,"Wait a minute? Thailand movie? Is it a horror movie?" Because guys, Thailand does the horror movies seriously, and I'd rather not watching or I'd be jumpy everytime I hear sounds at night for the whole month (or possibly more). Fortunately, it is not a horror movie. In fact, it's the perfect movie to open a new year. So here it is, a review and a lot of spoiler alert. Don't say I didn't warn you :).
The movie's title A Gift, with its tagline "because music is the best gift you can give", gives an initial guess at what it offers. Oh, it's a musical, I thought.
The film opens with late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's speech on a new year celebration and also shots of the king visiting the paddy fields, giving instruction on development and meeting the people. After about five minutes, the screen goes black and the audience are asked to stand up to honor the late king. We all obliged, and there was an aerial shot of people mourning on the passing of the king.
At this point, I thought that the movie would be a documentary of the king, and was a bit disappointed. Then the three-piece omnibus movie unravels beautifully.
The first piece begins with Beam (Nine Naphat Siangsomboon) practicing hand clapping before a vacant stage when a girl asks him to become a stand-in for the Russian Ambassador. He falls for the stand-in of Ambassador's wife, Pang (Violetta Wautier), who rejects him directly and violently on his first attempt of wooing. As the day progresses, the 'Ambassador couple' learn about each other and develop good relationship. The piece features Love at Sundown.
The second piece ties in with the first as the girl who asks Beam to be a stand-in, Fa (Mew Nittha), gets a phonecall from mother, asking her to come home and see father. Fa later resigns from her job to take care of her ailing father following the death of mother. With father having Alzheimer, Fa faces difficulty to keep things normal. She then realizes that father can remember things when she plays Still On My Mind on her mother's piano, so she decides to learn playing the song. She asks Aey (Sunny Suwanmethanont), a piano tuner, to tune the piano. Unlike Fa who tries to bring normalcy into the ailing father, Aey goes along with the flow. This second piece hits home as it reminds me of D, and although his condition has been going up and down in the past five years, at least he still remembers that I am his daughter.
The handsome guys and pretty girls in the movie. Photo: doc of GDH, found here
The last piece brings audience to the former office of Fah, Fa's mother. The colleagues are missing the musical Aunt Fah, but they find solace when Llong (Ter Chantavit), a metal musician-turned-financial analyst, arrives in the office. Kim (Noona Nuengthida) asks him to help establish a band to cheer up the colleagues. They have to face supervisor Ms Supakin, who hates Thaumatrope (Llong's former metal band) because her son has been playing the band's song since he was in Grade 9. Guess who is Ms Supakin's son? It's Beam! So the movie goes in a perfect circle. The last piece ends with New Year's Greeting, a song about new year's wishes.
As the movie comes to a close, the audience are told that the New Year's Greeting is a song composed by the late king, as his gift to the people of Thai. That's when all the pieces come to one with the speech featured in the beginning of the movie.
Thank you, King. Music is definitely the best gift you can give.
Photo: found here