Love is eternal, or at least feels that way, in "The Letter," a slow-moving, glossy Thai remake of a 1997 South Korean meller that doesn't just tug on the heartstrings but uses them to drop anchor in a sea of schmaltz. Although a major hit on local release in June, it's unlikely to get delivered to many non-Asian territories.

Love is eternal, or at least feels that way, in “The Letter,” a slow-moving, glossy Thai remake of a 1997 South Korean meller that doesn’t just tug on the heartstrings but uses them to drop anchor in a sea of schmaltz. Instead of building dramatic tension or achieving urgency, pic plods along to its predetermined “Love Story” destination. Although “Letter” was a major hit on local release in June and may create some pan-Asian interest because of the stamp of the successful original, it’s unlikely to get delivered to many non-Asian territories.

Bangkok professional cyber-chick Dew (Anne Thongprasom) inherits an old house on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand. A bus ticket mix-up results in Dew and her horny friend, Kate (Supichaya Julwattana), being protected by a local gardener, Ton (Attaporn Teemakorn). Dew and Ton fall for each other, and, when Kate is killed, Dew is drawn to the arms of Ton and the idyllic, no-tech life he offers.

Minor conflict ensues, but marriage is inevitable, as is a sudden sickness. Title refers to an antique love letter found by Ton, as well as underlining his sadness at the impermanence of cyber technology as a form of romantic correspondence.

Debuting director Phaoon Chandrasiri uses her experience helming TV drama series to good effect. All thesps give warm and endearing perfs, although none can escape the general tedium that envelopes the film. Apart from the repetitive score, tech credits are generally of a high standard, and cinematography by Naruphol Chokanapitak is impeccable.

Pic was the final project of influential Thai producer Duangkamol Limcharoen (“The Overture,” “Last Life in the Universe,” “Monrak Transistor”), who died of cancer last December, prior to film’s completion.

The Letter

Thailand

Production

A Sahamongkol Film Intl., Film Hanza, Cinemasia production. (International sales: Golden Network Asia, Hong Kong.) Produced by Duangkamol Limcharoen, Nonzee Nimibutr. Executive producers, Nimibutr, Somsak Techaratanaprasert. Directed by Phaoon Chandrasiri. Screenplay by Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, based on the South Korean film "The Letter."

Crew

Camera (color), Naruphol Chokanapitak; editor, P.D. Yukol; music, Boyd Kosiyabong, Chatchai Pongprapaphan; production designer, Ek Iemchuen; sound (Dolby Digital), Suraprom Pinyosub; casting Phalathon Siraksa. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (A Window on Asian Cinema), Oct. 13, 2004. Running time: 109 MIN.

With

Anne Thongprasom, Attaporn Teemakorn, Supichaya Julwattana, Rewat Promhrak, Ronnaroung Booranat, Noppakao Utaisri, Pranee Wantaya, Srijai Puttarach, Prasert Indhira, Wallope Sangjoi, Buatong Kaewfan, Gamthon Wongkieatrat, Yupa Kaiyasit, Tianshai Saiwaphon.
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