(International sales: Firecracker Film Co., Bangkok.)
Directed, written, edited by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Camera (B&W), Prasong Klinborrom. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival, Feb. 2, 2000. Original title: Dogfar nai mae marn. Running time: 83 MIN.
With: Duangjai Hiransri, Kongkeirt Komsiri, Saisiri Xoomsai.
The irresistible title “Mysterious Object at Noon” is surpassed only by the viewer’s perplexity at what in the world this independent Thai film is about. Not without its fascination, pic was conceived by director Apichatpong Weerasethakul as a bizarre performance piece hovering between fiction and documentary. Crew traveled up and down Thailand sans script, interviewing people from all walks of life and feeding them an interrupted storyline which they were asked to continue. Result is a weird hodgepodge that has the audience doing mental somersaults in an attempt to keep up with this highly original festival head-scratcher.
The chain story sounds like sci-fi but may be local legend or a children’s story. It begins with a boy who sees an “object” roll out from under his teacher’s skirt and imaginatively goes on from there. This storytelling dissolves into the gritty B&W realism of real-life handheld-camera interviews. People’s accounts of how their lives have been affected by fires, wars, natural disasters and personal tragedies are often touching, in contrast to the surreal mood of the “mysterious object” story. Coy intertitles do little to aid clarity.