Aditya Assarat’s Wonderful Town


In its first of mostly prolonged shots, the coastal waves along the southern Thai ghost town of Takua Pa break over and over with the tragic memory of the 2004 tsunami, thus setting the stage and subdued tone for Aditya Assarat’s solo feature debut. An affectionate love story that apes the studied art-drone minimalism of Tsai Ming-Liang and the haunted lushness of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the ironically titled Wonderful Town rewards more in its social-realist backdrop than its minor foreground drama. A foreigner to this once-thriving community now marred by aimlessness and gloom, Bangkok architect Ton (Supphasit Kansen) arrives to oversee the reconstruction of a beach resort and rents a room in a cheapie hotel run by the beautiful, city-educated Na (Anchalee Saisoontorn). Scored to an overlapping wall of jangly guitars and ambient hums, their relationship casually escalates from meet-cute to full-blown affair. But even under the shadowy veil of night, their secret gets loose and makes the locals jumpy with overblown suspicions, leading to the film’s inelegant whopper of a misstep: a violently confrontational climax for the sake of closure. It’s a petty screenwriting crutch and pettier metaphor, revealing that Assarat has little to say about the role of hope in post-traumatic living.