Friday, April 17, 2009

[SIFF09] A Moment in June (ณ ขณะรัก)


My first film of the 22nd Singapore International Film Festival which started on Tuesday, A Moment in June is deep in themes of longing, missing and that of forbidden love. While once I was a sucker for a film dwelling in deep melancholy, I found this needlessly setting itself up quite mysteriously in the first half, testing the patience of the audience with little hints being dropped now and then, before confirming the suspicion that it's really well connected between the stories and characters. So take note, don't just walk out the door like some others did, because the film really plods toward unleashing its payload.

It opens in 1999, where two men are seen talking on a train departing for Chiang Mai. It's revealed that these 2 lovers are now estranged, with Phon (Napatkorn Mitr-em) departing and leaving stage director Pakorn (Shahkrit Yamnarm) quite the emotional wreck. This is story thread one. In the next thread which starts off quite abruptly, we see an elderly lady Arunya (Deuntem Salitul) looking up her ex-lover Krung (Suchao Pongwilai) at an amusement park, though we see their 30-years-in-waiting reunion very much restraint in nature, unlike friends who are delighted to have met up after so long. And the third storyline deals with two couples, one pair married, the other going to. Except that the married man, and the bride-to-be, share secret rendezvous outside a cinema, and very much click, knowing eventualy that their love is doomed to fail.

The third part is interesting though, because it brought out some very seamless editing between the stage and the real world, dropping the first big hint that this could perhaps be a story that had happened some years back, being set in the 70s. Much credit goes to the art director, and the director of photography, in transporting us back to that nostalgic era lensed so beautifully, that you start to miss and long for more when the film transitions back to Today. However, one can sense that director O. Nathapon may either be a fan of Wong Kar-wai, or wanted to pay homage to In The Mood For Love, treading very close to recreating that moment of forbidden love based on discreet meet ups being developed in the dark back alleys of town, with a Thai oldie song played in the background serving as the unifying element across all story lines.

You've got to work through the non-linear narrative as it flips back and forth through events and characters, and personally I had some disregard for the current generation and their relationship problems, preferring instead the issues faced by the elderly couple, and the story which was set on stage, and in the past. It could be because the couple had a lot more going for them, and left you just wanting to find out more, on what could have happened to have led to that 30 year hiatus in contacting each other. And any blast from the past created meticulously, would get my vote as well.

One cannot deny that A Moment in June is very beautifully shot given its lush aesthetics, and I would have enjoyed it more if the pacing had been ramped up just a tad bit, and that the narrative didn't try to play coy (just like its characters) too much in the beginning. If the themes mentioned are right up your alley, you'll definitely find this film enjoyable, though I suspect that something inside me is screaming in not wanting any more, and to move on to brighter themes already.

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