The mainstream cinema of Thailand has in the last decade conquered the action and horror genres, and now it looks set with its sights aimed at making an impact in the romantic comedies as well. But it isn't the romantic weepies that the Japanese seem to have a stranglehold on, but that on the more light hearted fare that the used to be the mainstay of the Koreans. Utilizing equally good looking casts, the Thais look set to be on a roll with the adoption of the universal formula, and we'd probably be looking at a lot more of such film offerings to come.
In Fabulous 30, Somching Srisupap and Sakilaa Banyen's story deals with the notion of a younger man wooing after a much older woman, 7 years to be exact in this tale directed by the former. You can say all you want about the character being a cougar, or that of looking for a sugar mommy, but in essence it deals with that of looking beyond one's outer appearance, as well as judging a book not by its cover (yes, it's rather cliched), or to look beyond age since it doesn't really accurately reflects one's emotional maturity when dealing with relationships and the opposite sex. There are older folks who refuse to grow up and adopts a childish mindset, and vice versa. Fabulous 30 throws all these issues and themes into a single context, and explores it through a light hearted romantic romp.
Ja (Patcharapa Chaichue) is a successful career woman who seem to have it all amongst her clique of friends, but as we soon learn during the celebration of her 31st birthday, she got unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend of 7 years Nop (Peter Corp Dyrendal), whom she berates for having wasted all her youthful time on, leaving her pretty much high and dry and dejected in her love life, almost resigning to her fate that she may never find another suitable man as her partner. In comes Por (Phuphom Phongpanu), the friend of her staff Sen (Nithit Warayanon), and despite the goading by her friends that this younger chap is all hot, she doesn't really bat an eyelid toward his friendly advances, and almost settled for placing him in the dreaded friend zone.
But thanks to Por's childish antics, stemming from never having been in a relationship and going all out on his first attempt, the best he ever got to was for Ja to seriously consider over it, with their age gap being one of the largest stumbling blocks because, I suppose, it's somewhat running against societal norms. You got to tip your hat off to her for enduring Por's really cloying behaviour, which sometimes lead to very embarrassing circumstances, and making things worse is the return of Nop back into Ja's life - here's a chance to go back to normalcy, or to take a chance with someone really new, and may be taking things a little light with the kinds of wooing tactics employed, which depending on your tolerance level, may deem it excessively desperate, or really novel.
The story circles around these issues, and it does get tiring after a while to witness Ja's indecision whether to go for it, to think about it, or otherwise. Por has a clock to run from, where work opportunity will place him into a 6 months separation from his lady love, so an answer is quite crucial to work out something long distance. Again I suppose the games people play make it to the narrative because it may be therapeutic for the storytellers to perhaps exercise some old demons from the past, and in doing so make their collective experience very much identifiable to audiences. But too much of a good thing adds up to a dragging of the narrative, even if it comes with a little bit of a revelation to explain in very verbatim terms why Por got so attracted to Ja.
But you have to admit that Patcharapa Chaichue would drive any young, hot blooded male crazy over her looks, despite being really of a close age to her character Ja. Her expressions throughout were really top notch, whether in expressing embarrassment, delight, or a mixture of both, she has the acting chops to put veterans in their place, making Ja come alive with sultriness and spunk, yet lamenting at her indecision. While Phuphom Phongpanu may share some chemistry with the leading lady, his range was somehow let down by the characterization of Por, who's quite the lovelorn character who can't seem to grow up, again being in the same age group in real life, but I wonder if even he would go to the extent of wooing someone with the kinds of stunts pulled off in the movie.
As always, there is the sheer coincidences that happen, and the very sweet, saccharine courtship rituals that come to pepper the plot. Pacing is a little bit erratic, as is the introduction of supporting characters such as Gift (Aorada Arayawuthi) whose subplot to become a viable alternative, distraction or temptation for Por didn't seem to move off from first gear, and got forgotten soon enough. Fans of romantic comedies will do yourselves a favour in checking Fabulous 30 out, and to keep an eye out for more of such films to come out from Thailand that are currently milking a proven formula.