Film #182: Last Life in the Universe (2003)

lastlifeaka: Ruang rak noi nid mahasan (เรื่องรัก น้อยนิด มหาศาล)
Director: Pen-ek Ratanaruang
Language: Japanese, Thai, English
Length: 104 minutes
Watched on: 8 January 2016

I don’t know when exactly I got this, probably as a Christmas present, but I’m kind of pleased with myself for actually watching it fairly soon after getting it – I’ve literally had some DVDs in my collection for years without getting around to them (some of them are supposed to be scary, that’s my excuse anyway!).

This movie is a bit strange in that it’s one of very few movies that can legitimately claim to be trilingual. It’s set in Thailand, and its two main characters are a quiet, suicidal Japanese man, and a fiery Thai girl, who end up together when the Japanese man’s yakuza brother shows up on his doorstep, violence and murder in tow. They don’t speak each other’s language and end up using English to communicate – realistically, I might add, with naturalistic second-language user errors. The movie is narrated in Japanese by the main character, who sometimes solipsistically strays into suicidal soliloquy. We see him fantasizing about killing himself throughout the movie, but always in a downplayed way.

The movie was interesting up to a point, but it was a bit slow to hold my interest for the whole movie, and there was one moment right at the end which was supposed to be a twist, and I found I didn’t care, nor was I shocked. The characters are kind of lazily the opposite of one another – forgetting subtlety to manufacture conflict in the movie. It’s the kind of movie that is often described as “lyrical”, which to me means that it’s slow and relies more on atmosphere and imagery than plot and character.

It had a good atmosphere, that said, and I was impressed by the realism, not just of the use of language, and it reminds me that I want to visit Thailand someday soon. I liked the Thai girl’s character, as she had a bit more personality to her – the Japanese man was the type that doesn’t impress me. Glad to have watched it, but I don’t think I’d recommend it strongly.

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