Monday, March 21, 2011


(romantic comedy
in Thai, with English subtitles)
Cast: Sirin Horwang, Theeradej Wongpuapan and Unsumalin Sirasakpatharamaetha
Director: Adisorn Trisirikasem
Screenplay: Trisirikasem, Benjamaporn Srabua and Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit
Time: 129 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

Wongpaupan and Horwang

PREAMBLE: Two things you may want to know about this Thai movie - it was released on Oct 15, 2009 and it was the highest-grossing Thai film of that year collecting 142 million Thai baht (or RM14.1 million). We do not know why it took so long to come to Malaysia but its box-office 'appeal' (or the lack of it) could be a factor.

If anything, the title is appropriate because it reminds me of Bangkok's infamous traffic jams: watching the movie is like being caught in slow-moving traffic for more than two hours, with an insufferable long-winded wind-bag for a companion.

THE SKINNY: This is basically the story of Muei-Ly (Sirin Horwang), a Thai-Chinese girl who, at 30, is feeling desperate at finding her Mr Right. Societal pressures are hard to ignore, especially when most of her girlfriends, including a so-called 'ugly duckling', are getting hitched and moving out of her social circle.

Late one night, however, a drunken Muei-Ly gets into an accident and meets her Mr Hot (Theeradej Wongpuapan as Lung), an engineer working the night shift at the BTS (Bangkok Transit System or Skytrain) station. Lung would have been just a passing 'dream' for Muei-Ly if he had not showed up at her house a few days later - as 'Uncle' to the boyfriend of Muei-Ly's family maid.

She meets him a few more times at the Skytrain stations - but dares not make the first move, at least not until her pretty neighbour Plern (Ungsumalynn Sirapatsakmetha, above, right) starts hitting on him. And just when she manages to spend the Songkran (Thai new year) holidays with him, she discovers something heartbreaking...

THE REVIEW: Let's get over with the good stuff first: Wongpaupan is really a charmer and would definitely go well with females in the audience. Sirin Horwang has rather limited facial expressions but we tend to root for her as the shy, pampered girl who lives with her parents and Teochew-speaking grandma. Co-star Unsumalin Sirasakpatharamaetha (as Plern, below) provides comic relief and a little tension to the plot. And if you see a lot of scenes on the Skytrain, it is because the movie is sponsored by the BTS, celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Its flaws are plenty, most notably in its implausible and sometimes moronic script (by director and co-writer Trisirikasem, Benjamaporn Srabua and Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit) that drags, sputters and stalls for more than two hours to tell a story that could easily have been done in half that time. Indeed, the film-makers feel compelled to emphasise the nightmares of the infamous Bangkok transport systems - stressing on 'smelly' armpits and others - and doing infantile gags involving Muei-Ly's boss and his solar-energy bras, etc. What I cannot tolerate about the film is the writers' misrepresentation of Muei-Ly as the urban female. They portray her as the dreamer and schemer going after the love of her life - and yet when she gets him, she acts coy throughout. Yes, this is a love story when the lovers do not even hold hands, let alone kiss each other!

Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story is director Trisirikasem's third feature, after Lucky Loser (2006) and My Girl (2003). I have not seen the previous films but would definitely recommend that he takes a look at what young people do on dates these days, before he makes another romantic comedy. That way, his movies may cross more borders and gross as much as those from Hollywood.

THE LOWDOWN: For those who don't mind being stuck in jams.


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