The Elephant King a Pale Excuse for a Cinematographer’s Holiday


In the miasma of permanent-vacation desperation (c.f. Malcolm Lowry, Saint Jack) we find Jake (Jonno Roberts), a footloose American hedonist in Thailand, blowing his ‘rents’ retirement funds on getting blown. Lonesome, he flies out his kid brother (Tate Ellington), an un-laid squirmy introvert, for a taste of high life in the Land of Smiles. This King of Marvin Gardens redux is a pale excuse for a cinematographer’s holiday, with actors along as compositional placeholders. Dueling for Worst Performance honors are a teeth-gnashingly flustered Ellen Burstyn as the boys’ forsaken mother (“You have to watch out for the AIDS bacteria”) and Josef Sommer as their father, seen clicking through Thai porn sites—a handful of scenes with them and you’re ready for exile. It doesn’t help that auteur Seth Grossman dispenses press-kit headslappers like, “The way these brothers take care of the elephant reflects the way America tries to take care of the world.” But featured French-Thai actress Florence Faivre is a knockout, and DP Diego Quemada-Diez was clearly hot to expose film while adrift in the ocean of party lights. Equivalent to a crummy band with a monster of a drummer who convinces you to stay for the whole show anyways.

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