Writer-director Jira Maligool has 140 stories to choose from in his film adaptation of Thai novelist Archin Panjabhan’s autobiographical “The Tin Mine,” which is precisely the problem. By trying to jam as many of these little tales into his second feature (following the similarly slight “Mekhong Full-Moon Party”), Maligool’s look at a young university student getting life lessons while working at a remote tin-dredging operation collapses from lack of dramatic spine and diffused focus. Disappointing Thai selection for a foreign-language Oscar nom played locally in May 2005, but won’t travel far.
Flunking engineering student Archin (Pijaya Vachajitpan) narrates — endlessly, it seems — about his break from studies by laboring at a tin mine in southern Thailand run by two Aussies, including good-hearted Sam (Anthony Howard Gould) who observes Archin’s smarts and hard work. Motley crew of eccentrics, drunks, crafty shopkeepers and old wise men figure in dozens of little incidents that do little more than kill time. Just as Archin learns how to be a man, the mine gives out, leaving behind a string of memories too weak to sustain a feature.