Review: ‘Fake’

Slick, stylish and utterly empty, "Fake" lives down to its name by tossing its young, attractive cast around a sleek, modern Bangkok purely for effect. Tripartite structure, following three dudes in love with the same gal, adds up to nothing but formula. Walkouts were rife at Vancouver bow, and though pic was OK earner at home, it won't be getting real at too many fests after this.

Slick, stylish and utterly empty, “Fake” lives down to its name by tossing its young, attractive cast around a sleek, modern Bangkok purely for effect. Tripartite structure, following three dudes in love with the same gal, adds up to nothing but formula. Walkouts were rife at Vancouver bow, and though pic was OK earner at home, it won’t be getting real at too many fests after this.

“Fake” centers on guys in their early 20s, dealing with crossroads of love and work. Romantic suffering is valued above all other emotions, women are seen for their beauty and little else, and there’s always some reason to bring in macho violence.

Pic begins with shaggy-haired Bae (rocker Paopol Thephasdin) kicking the crap out of, and then shooting, a fellow who turns out to be himself — a stylistic conceit that has nothing to do with what follows, although perhaps it helps explains the English-only title. In reality, he is beating himself up over recent loss of g.f. who is glimpsed but never fully seen. Auds may want to hurt him, as well, since he never answers a phone that is constantly screaming on the soundtrack, and fails to get a grip in general.

By far the best seg has Bae’s pal Poe (hunky Leo Putt, also known as Putthipong Sriwat), a talented photographer and all-around babe magnet who nonetheless keeps failing to connect with the slinky Na (Pachrapa Chaichua). This leads them to a series of near-misses all over Bangkok, seen from its most geometrically interesting angles. Last part has irritating flatmate Soong (half-American Ray McDonald) also going after the Na, who has a job at a high-toned agency.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the elusive and emotionally distant Na was also the g.f. Bae was pining after, but an advanced psych degree would be helpful in figuring out why such a slick chick would be wasting her time with these baggy-pants losers — let alone how a roommie or two wouldn’t know who his pals were bedding.

Everything else here is carefully calculated, from the contrasting color schemes (blue, yellow and red) to the way every sound and editing effect is souped up for maximum shock value. Time frames are juggled, a la “Pulp Fiction,” so that what appears sequential is actually simultaneous. But there’s no real payoff to all this stylistic sturm und drang. Most Thai pic-makers come from tube-ad and musicvid backgrounds, and thus tech values are up to date, down to no-attention-span editing. “Fake” is no exception, although most auds will be left wondering what it’s trying so hard to sell.

Fake

Thailand

Production

A Baa-Ram-Ewe production, in association with Sahamongkol Film. (International sale: Golden Network, Bangkok.) Produced by Prachya Pinkaew, Sukanya Wongstapat, Siwaporn Pongsuwan. Executive producers, Christine Haebler, Jayme Pfahl. Coproducer, Tony Johnston. Directed by Thanakorn Pongsuwan. Screenplay, Thanakorn Pongsuwan, Siwaporn Pongsuwan, Ahn Joon B.

Crew

Camera (color), Dacha Srimantra; editor, Thanakorn Pongsuwan, Max Tersch, Lee Chatametikool; music, Chaibundit Peuchponsub, Apichet Kumphu, Paopol Thephasdin; production designer, Thanakorn Pongsuwan. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Dragons and Tigers), Sept. 30, 2003. Running time: 109 MIN.

With

Ray McDonald, Leo Putt, Paopol Thephasdin, Pachrapa Chaichua.
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