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P-047

"P-047" offers much to stimulate open-minded viewers, but its willful elusiveness reps a challenge for general auds.

With:
With: Apichai Tragoolpadetgrai, Prinya Ngamwongwarn, Wanarat Kaiyasit, Margot Chung, Nastnathakit Intarasut, Khannungnij Jaksamithanont. (Thai dialogue)

Opening as an offbeat account of two men who break into houses but don’t steal anything, “P-047” then turns upside down and inside out with fantasy sequences, flashbacks and elliptical meditations on dreams and identity. Bearing the distinct stamp of leading Thai indie producer Soros Sukhum (“Eternity,” “Wonderful Town,”) this arthouse detour by mainstream filmmaker Kongdej Jaturanrasmee (“Midnight My Love”) offers much to stimulate open-minded viewers, but its willful elusiveness reps a challenge for general auds. Pic looks set for a lengthy fest run, while the popularity of singer-turned-thesp Apichai Tragoolpadetgrai will assist local marketing. Domestic release details are pending.

First half plays like a low-key crime meller: Kong (Prinya Ngamwongwarn), a young would-be writer, has formed an odd friendship and criminal partnership with Lek (Tragoolpadetgrai), a 40-ish locksmith who works in the shopping mall where Kong sells magazines. The duo meticulously plan and execute invasions of empty homes, slowly sift through personal belongings, and then leave without removing any valuables.

The intriguing idea is that Kong, who feels empty after splitting up with g.f. Nook (Margot Chung), and the painfully shy Lek, who has never had a girlfriend, are “stealing” bits and pieces from strangers’ lives to fill gaps in their own. As Lek says to Kong, “There was nothing good about my life until now.”

Narrative changes dramatically when they’re caught in the act by Tana (Nastnathakit Intarasut), a gay man who returns to his apartment as a result of devastating email messages Kong has just sent from Tana’s home computer. Following a struggle with a knife, the action cuts abruptly to Lek in hospital, where everyone calls him “Kong.”

From here things get decidedly strange. Lek is befriended by Oy (Wanarat Kaiyasit), a disturbed patient obsessed with smells that remind her of the past. Sort of assuming Kong’s identity, Lek visits Kong’s home in what seems to be a passage from a spy novel Kong imagines he has written. Flashbacks to Kong’s relationship with Nook, sequences in which dialogue from previous scenes is repeated by different characters, and a fairy tale involving a peacock are thrown into a mix. Result defies any concrete explanation, but will fascinate viewers who click with the central theme of how identity and self-perception are influenced by dreams and vicarious experience.

Perfs by the non-pro leads are tops. Ngamwongwarn is compelling as the cool and calculating brains of the operation, while Tragoolpadetgrai evokes sympathy as a lonely guy fearing he’ll never find happiness.

Elegant lensing in muted tones by up-and-coming d.p. Umpornpol Yugala (“Eternity”) and precision editing by Manussa Vorasingha and Kamontorn Eakwattanakij are the standouts in a high-quality tech package. Thai title loosely translates as “Just for One.”

P-047

Thailand

Production: A Song Sound production with the support of Thailand Ministry of Culture, Red Blue Thailand, 5 Takkab Thailand, Paris Project Paris Cinema Film Festival. (International sales: Song Sound, Bangkok.) Produced by Soros Sukhum, Kongdej Jaturanrasmee. Executive producers, Prattaporn Jaturanrassmee, Pannarai Phaholyotin. Directed, written by Kongdej Jaturanrasmee.

Crew: Camera (color), Umpornpol Yugala; editors, Manussa Vorasingha, Kamontorn Eakwattanakij; music, Chaibandit Peuchponsub, Apichet Kambhu; art directors, Rasiguet Sookkarn, Parinda Moongmaiphol; costume designer, Cattleya Phaosrijareon; sound (Dolby Digital), Traithep Wongpaiboon; assistant director, Pipat Jomkoh; casting, Tippawan Narintorn, Sofia Saenkhamkon. Reviewed at Busan Film Festival (A Window on Asian Cinema), Oct. 13, 2011 (Also in Dubai Film Festival; Venice Film Festival -- Horizons.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Apichai Tragoolpadetgrai, Prinya Ngamwongwarn, Wanarat Kaiyasit, Margot Chung, Nastnathakit Intarasut, Khannungnij Jaksamithanont. (Thai dialogue)

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