Review: ‘The Tin Mine’

Writer-director Jira Maligool has 140 stories to choose from in his film adaptation of Thai novelist Archin Panjabhan's "The Tin Mine," which is precisely the problem. By trying to jam as many of these little tales into his feature, Maligool's look at a young university student getting life lessons collapses from lack of dramatic spine and diffused focus.

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.

The Tin Mine

Thailand

Production

A GMM Tai Hub presentation in association with Dedicate. (International sales: GMM Tai Hub, Bangkok.) Produced by Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, Prasert Wiwattananonpong, Jira Maligool. Executive producers, Paiboon Damrongchaitham, Boosaba Daorueng, Visute Poolvoralaks, Jina Osothsilp, Mingmongkol Sonakul. Directed, written by Jira Maligool, based on the novel by Archin Panjabhan.

Crew

Camera (color), Chankit Chamnivikaipong; editor, Parn Busabun; music, Wild at Heart; production designer, Ek Iemchuen; costume designer, Apinya Chavarangkoon; casting, Jarupas Padmasiri. Reviewed on videocassette at Palm Springs Film Festival (Awards Buzz), Jan. 14, 2006. (Also in Pusan Film Festival.) Thai, English, Malay dialogue. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Pijaya Vachajitpan, Sonthaya Chitmanee, Anthony Howard Gould, Donlaya Madcha, Jumpol Thongtan, Niran Satta.

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