The lush Thai meller "A Moment in June" elegantly intertwines love stories set in 1972 and 1999 with the staging of a play deeply connected to both. Although slightly overlong and a tad too talky, this ambitious pic marks a strong debut for scripter-helmer O Nathapon, whose artful mix of theatrical and cinematic techniques produces an affecting study of love and separation. A lengthy fest run seems certain following world preem at Pusan. Domestic and offshore prospects appear slim, with gay content boding well for specialized ancillary markets. Local release is planned for early 2009.

The lush Thai meller “A Moment in June” elegantly intertwines love stories set in 1972 and 1999 with the staging of a play deeply connected to both. Although slightly overlong and a tad too talky, this ambitious pic marks a strong debut for scripter-helmer O Nathapon, whose artful mix of theatrical and cinematic techniques produces an affecting study of love and separation. A lengthy fest run seems certain following world preem at Pusan. Domestic and offshore prospects appear slim, with gay content boding well for specialized ancillary markets. Local release is planned for early 2009.

A 1999-set opening finds theater director Pakorn (Shahkrit Yanmarm) saying awkward goodbyes to Phon (Napaskorn Mit-Aim), his distant boyfriend. Onboard a train bound for the city of Chiang Mai in Lampang province, Phon is leaving to consider his future. The couple make a pact that the relationship is over for good unless both show up on Phon’s appointed return date.

Also in 1999, middle-aged writer Arunya (Deuntem Salitul) arrives in Lampang and finds Krung (Suchao Pongvilai), a carnival operator she has not seen since a brief and illicit affair 30 years ago. Flashbacks reveal Phon and Arunya have met by chance on the same train and shared intimate thoughts about love and longing. 

Third and most imaginatively conceived part of Nathapon’s screenplay involves rehearsals for a play being directed by Pakorn. Set in 1972, it concerns a bride-to-be (Sinitta Boonyasak) falling in love with her fiance’s best man (Krissada Sukosol Clapp). Their growing closeness achieves a highly sensual air without much more than a kiss being shown. 

Story glides gracefully through the three fields of action as powerful connections are slowly pieced together. Most impressive is the way stage apparatus is removed, as it would be in a live production, and characters continue their dialogue in realistic locations. These seamless transitions are thrilling in their own non-showy way and play a major role in drawing auds into the mystery of where imagined characters stop and real ones begin. 

Though its pace could use general tightening, the film presents a meaningful exploration of love’s often agonizing consequences. Thesping is spot-on by an ensemble perfectly in tune with the material, with special nods to Salitul’s middle-aged realist and Clapp’s fine grasp of a thoroughly decent man possessed by uncontrollable attraction. 

Handsome production design evokes a bittersweet nostalgia for early ’70s Thailand and subtly enforces the connections between eras with the placement of various old wares in contempo sequences. Immaculate, color-drenched lensing by David Ethan Sanders is as rich as the emotional territory. Rest of the technical package is classy.

A Moment in June 

Thailand

Production

A the Story of O production. (International sales: Sahamongkol Film Intl., Bangkok.) Produced by O Nathapon.  Directed, written by O Nathapon.

Crew

Camera (color), David Ethan Sanders; editor, Lee Chatametikool; music, Robert Walker, production designer, Tomoya Imai; costume designer, Nirachara Wannalai; sound (Dolby Digital), Eakpol Kangern. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (New Currents -- competing), Oct. 4, 2008. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Shahkrit Yanmarm, Sinitta Boonyasak, Krissada Sukosol Clapp, Deuntem Salitul, Suchao Pongvilai, Napaskorn Mit-Aim, Hiro Sano. (Thai, Japanese dialogue)
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