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Blissfully Yours

"Blissfully Yours" takes the good-humored nonsense of Thai director Apichatpong Weeasethakul's first feature, "Mysterious Object at Noon," several steps further into the realm of non-communicative minimalism. Pic's anarchistic freedom and general weirdness may find scattered admirers among the sophisticates.

A rare example of indie filmmaking produced outside the Thai studio system, “Blissfully Yours” takes the good-humored nonsense of director Apichatpong Weeasethakul’s first feature, “Mysterious Object at Noon,” several steps further into the realm of non-communicative minimalism. Long and very slow, this storyless film about three dim characters living on Thailand’s border with Burma is unlikely to travel further than festivals hankering after geographic spread, where pic’s anarchistic freedom and general weirdness may find scattered admirers among the sophisticates. A small but gasp-producing dose of erotic content should kill most TV sales.

In the offbeat opener set in a doctor’s office, two women — the young factory worker Roong (Kanokporn Tongaram) and Orn, a dour woman in her 40s (Jenjira Jansuda) — take hunky Min (Min Oo) in for an exam to see why his skin is flaking off. This loosely shot scene sets up the ambiguous threesome, whose relationship is never fully clarified. If Roong turns out to be Min’s lover, Orn remains a baffling third wheel.

Much is made of the pain Min feels in shedding his skin like a snake, and he’s not comforted by the women’s ministrations of lotions and creams to his body parts. An illegal immigrant from Burma who has come to Thailand in search of work, he is depicted as a kind of silent jungle god with no greater feelings than childish affection for his protectors.

Roong takes him on a picnic in the jungle in Orn’s car, while Orn heads for same with a randy fellow who works with her husband. Two explicit sex scenes are shot with the same brutal flatness as the rest of the picture.

The mostly non-pro cast walks through the film with deadpan minimalism that keeps them at arm’s reach from the audience. Even Orn’s tears, perhaps related to the loss of her child, are ultimately uninterpretable. Min is slightly rounded out through voiceovers and the superimposed drawings he has made — another distancing device meant to give information without getting viewers to identify with him.

Basic fixed frame camerawork combines with casually edited long takes to keep the pace extremely slow. Everything is spiked with occasional, almost imperceptible humor, such as the bizarre choice to place the opening credits 45 minutes into the film.

Blissfully Yours

Un Certain Regard / Thailand-France

  • Production: Kick the Machine, Bangkok.) Produced by Eric Chan, Charles de Meaux. Directed, written by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Sayombhu Mukdeeprom; editor, Lee Chatametikool; art director, Akekarat Homlaor; sound (Dolby SR), Teekadet Vucharadhanin, Lee Chatametikool. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 17, 2002. Running time: 125 MIN.
  • With: Roong Kanokporn Tongaram Min Min Oo Orn Jenjira Jansuda <b>With:</b> Sa-Gnad Chaiyapan, Kanitpat Premkiji. Thai, Burmese dialogue.
  • Music By: