Review: ‘The Happiness of Kati’

A terminally ill mother's guilt and her 9-year-old daughter's pain are delicately examined.

A terminally ill mother’s guilt and her 9-year-old daughter’s pain are delicately examined in “The Happiness of Kati.” Adapted from the popular local bestseller by Jane Vejjajiva, the story’s minor lapses into sentiment are offset by 11-year-old Patsorn Kongmeesuk’s marvelous perf as the brave young heroine and lovely evocations of her life along the Chao Praya river. Helmed by debutant Genwaii Thongdenok, the pic did only modest biz on early 2009 domestic release, but is worthy of consideration by fests, particularly those with sections for children 10 and older.

In a quiet village in Ayutthhaya, Kati (Kongmeesuk) lives with her wealthy and adoring grandparents (Saad Peampongsanta, Jaruwan Panyopas) and has only the faintest memory of her single mother, Pat (Ratchanok Saeng-Xuto.) In the final stages of a fatal neurological disease, Pat asks that Kati be brought to her seaside house, where a touching reunion and the answers to many questions await. Tackling death and intimate family affairs with utmost sensitivity for tween viewers, the pic is lovingly lensed, though production design goes overboard on antiseptic whites at Pat’s house. Other tech aspects are fine.

The Happiness of Kati

Thailand

Production

A Mongkol Films release of a Sahamongkol Film Intl. production. (International sales: Sahamongkol Film Intl., Bangkok.) Produced by Jatusom Techaratanaprasert, Sutita Ruangronghirunya. Executive producer, Somsak Techaratanaprasert. Directed by Genwaii Thongdenok. Screenplay, Jane Vejjajiva, Thongdenok, based on the novel "Kwam suk khong Kati" by Vejjajiva.

Crew

Camera (color), Tanon Sattarujawong; editor, M. R. Patamanadda Yukol; music, Nop Ponchamni, Kantee Anantagant, Kamolpat Pimsam; production designer, Akekarat Homlaor. Reviewed at Bangkok Film Festival (Thai Panorama), Sept. 26, 2009. (Also in Pusan Film Festival -- A Window on Asian Cinema.) Original title: Kwam suk khong Kati. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Patsorn Kongmeesuk, Ratchanok Saeng-Xuto, Saad Peampongsanta, Jaruwan Panyopas, Michael Shaowanasai, Krissada Sukosol, Khemupsorn Sirisukha, Nithit Kosakul.

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