Lauren Hutton

Jealousy erupts quickly but steamy sex and dull narrative move at a glacial pace in this somnambulistic meller.

Jealousy erupts quickly but steamy sex and dull narrative move at a glacial pace in Thai somnambulistic meller “Ploy.” Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s return to a sole scripting credit after “Invisible Waves” makes that maligned, slow pic look like a rapid approaching tsunami in comparison. Yarn about a Thai man whose casual friendship with a 19-year old girl flames the paranoid imagination of his wife, is too flimsy and false to truly engage. Helmer’s rep will insinuate this pic into fest slots, but commercial prospects are small.

Wit (Pornwut Sarasin) and his wife Dang (Lalita Panyopas) have returned to Thailand for a funeral after a decade living in the United States. Jet-lagged, Wit goes down to the Bangkok airport hotel bar while his wife sleeps. Also in the bar is an sexy 19-year-old waif Ploy (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk), who is waiting for her mother to arrive from Stockholm.

Based on the fact that they are both originally from Phuket, Wit invites the girl to rest up in his hotel room. Unsurprisingly, Dang is less than impressed and the married couple quietly argue while the young girl showers, before taking a nap.

Each of the three protagonists move in and out of their early morning snoozes, allowing Ratanaruang to practice cinematic sleight of hand with his slim narrative. Chief among these illusory happenings is an extended erotic encounter between hotel maid Tum (Phorntip Papanai) and the barman Nut (Ananda Everingham), who served Ploy and Wit. Compellingly erotic, these scenes are the principal reason for the deliberate pace employed by Ratanaruang, and indicate that cinema’s gain has truly been pornography’s loss.

Helming is solid but a lack of substance to accompany the snail pace will test the endurance of patient auds. Proficient thesps do well to carry the heavy load. Tech credits are strong but lulling soundtrack by Hualampong Riddim and Koichi Shimizu not only emphasizes the sleepy state of the protagonists but threatens to recreate it in the audience.

Ploy

Thailand-Netherlands

Production

A Fortissimo Films presentation of a Fortissimo Films (Netherlands), Five Star (Thailand) production, in association with the Film Factory (Thailand). (International sales: Fortissimo Films, Amsterdam.) Produced by Rewat Vorarat. Executive producer, Charoen Iamphungporn. Co-producers, Aphiradee Iamphungporn, Kiatkamon Iamphungporn, Wouter Berendrecht, Michael J. Werner. Directed, written by Pen-ek Ratanaruang.

Crew

Camera (color), Charnkit Chamniwikaipong; editor, Patamanadda Yukol; music, Hualampong Riddim, Koichi Shimizu; production designer, Saksiri Chantarangsri, art director, Pipat Permpoon; sound, (Dolby Digital) Akritchalerm Kalaynamtr. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 21, 2007. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Dang - Lalita Panyopas Wit - Pornwut Sarasin Nut - Ananda Everingham Ploy - Apinya Sakuljaroensuk Tum - Phorntip Papanai Moo - Thakaskorn Pradabpongsa

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