Mundane History’s Metaphysical Family Drama Is Anything But


Winner of a prize at this past year’s Rotterdam festival, Anocha Suwichakornpong’s well-modulated debut feature is an unlikely diptych of caregiver-and-patient portrait and Enter the Void nebular freakout. Refreshingly, in the earthbound part, neither the young bedridden paraplegic nor his diplomatic nurse are in search of mawkish communion: One is bitter and quick to take offense; the other tells his wife on the phone that the locals in his new place of work are “soulless.” Their thaw takes place mostly in the well-kept house of the patient’s stiff professor father; the plantation-mansion stillness makes the physical inertia by turns serene and stifling. The family’s long-standing servant staff, part of the family and yet not, shade in a layer of class commentary. But most striking are the bifurcated film structures and benign wooziness reminiscent of fellow Thai filmmaker Weerasethakul Apichatpong, whose editor works here at seamlessly shuffling scene chronology (though to no urgent purpose). The ultimate break comes with a glorious full-screen CGI zoom into blazing heavenly bodies, a refutation of the title’s modesty. Suwichakornpong goes one step too far with a graphic rendition of rebirth that takes the cosmological cycle too literally, but her UFO of a movie gets in and gets out too quickly for us to mind.