Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story (Rot Fai Faa... Maha Na Ter)

Three's a Crowd

I must admit I was curious about this film because of its box office champ status in Thailand, and not just being a film with a romance set in and around Bangkok's BTS Skytrain system, which agreed to lend its name to the movie as it celebrates its 10th year anniversary, providing a rare glimpse into its depot locale and the acknowledgement to the unsung heroes of the transportation network - the nocturnal track maintenance engineers. Singapore has our own feature film shot from within our MRT depot, so look no further than Lucky 7 since one of the segmenets (by Ho Tzu Nyen) was shot entirely there.

Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story is just that, a romantic comedy about girl meeting boy and their falling in love. It doesn't try to disguise itself as something cerebral, and goes about its cliche narrative about modern day romance in a typical big, bustling city. Directed by Adisorn Trisirikasem and written by the team of Trisirikasem, Benjamaporn Srabua and Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, they craft a tale centered on Mei Ly (Sirin Horwang), a single 30 year old female who's soon finding her social circle shrinking no thanks to friends being married, and embarks on her own quest to find Mr Right from somewhere out there in Bangkok.

Like a friend too who also feedback on how difficult it is to get his friends out as the usual excuse is "got kid got family" to take care of, the story deals with how lonely one can get when friends start to break routines and the difficulty in meeting up when they're free (if at all), and it requires a serendipitous hand to bring someone whom we fancy, and vice versa, to step into our lives. So enter Lung (Theeradej Wongpuapan), but not everything comes on a silver platter, with his career being quite the challenge in maintaining any semblance of a relationship, since his work is during the graveyard hours, when the rest of the world is sleeping.

The narrative takes its time to tell the story of this romantic liaison, and focuses pretty much on Mei Ly, not that I'm complaining since Sirin Horwang is quite the cute looker from certain angles. She brings about a likable demeanour with plenty to laugh along with in her desperate attempts to try and hook up with Lung, taking advice from a prettier friend Plem (Unsumalin Sirasakpatharamaetha) who turns out to be quite the third party in wanting to use her tricks to work toward Lung's heart herself. But being a romantic comedy, this is kept up until the middle act, to allow the three a crowd to become a two's a company.

Many have claimed the story sprawls, and truth be told that's one of the positive things that went for the film. I felt that, for instance, the extended dwelling on Mei Ly's introduction, and the pains she experiences with the public transportation system is something that almost every commuter will be able to identify with, even here as our system becomes packed like sardines for the lack of infrastructure supporting the growth in population. Played out purely for laughs with some exaggeration in meeting some of the most obnoxious characters all in one nightmarish trip.

While Theeradej Wongpapan makes for that dreamy leading man who sends the heart of our heroine aflutter, it is Sirin Horwang in her role as the desperate modern woman complete with Japanese anime influences in peeking into her inner motivation and drive that makes her all the more alluring (if I may use that term!) to follow. Her klutzy portrayal of Mei Ly and at times that narrow-naturedness also brought about a certain vulnerability in being someone confused in the game of love, in not knowing what to do, yet exasperated in wanting to do something. Don't we all at times, experience the same thing?

There are already a number of romantic comedies in the cinemas now, with Au Revoir Taipei, Taipei Exchanges, and now this Thailand edition that stands worthy of the other two side by side. Yes it's fluff, and it's saccharine sweet, though it did make its lead characters work doubly hard to reach their intended finale, but yes, this one worked wonders despite the cliche and formula it conforms to. A perfect date movie, this one I will unabashedly give the recommendation to as well.

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