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Just Friend

 

Sorradithep Supachanya

 

15 February 2006

   
 

Despite a weak script, abysmal acting, and countless other flaws, first-time director Weerapong Kanjananits Just Friend still turns out to be a surprisingly intimate and pleasant film. And I dont know why I enjoyed it.

Perhaps I enjoyed the films puppy love story and its tranquil, bucolic setting that evoked a sense of nostalgia of my schooldays when the world seemed so pure and innocent. The plotabout a high school boy named Meen (Prompon Sitthimongkol) trying to win acceptance from the traditionally strict father (Apichat Susakul) of his girlfriend and classmate Fang (Kanokwan Thanachai)is hopelessly unoriginal but seems to serve as the least common denominator to which the audience can relate. The film has no climaxes or denouements, just an evenly paced feel-good story peppered with harmless comedy. Unfortunately, the plot takes a fatally wrong turn during the last half hour and concludes with an unnecessary and pointless ending (which I should not disclose).

Or, perhaps I loved the movies excellent score and songs. Whether a piano ballad or a pop song, the film music in Just Friends seems to precisely reflect the mood of the story, sometimes doing an even better job than the actors themselves. Much of the film is presented as silent actions accompanied by musiclike a music videowhich works particularly well in this case because it saves the audience from enduring such amateur acting as rubbing the stomach while saying Lets go eat. Im hungry and such silly dialogues as My name is Meen. I come from Bangkok and I am in 11th grade. This line itself is perfectly legitimate if uttered in the beginning of the movie but it just seems out of place for Meen to say to Fang 30 minutes into the movie and after probably a month following the start of the school where both have attended the same classes.

Maybe another reason why I enjoyed the movie was because the entire cast actually looked their parts. The father appears fatherly. The school bully Aud (Thanamit Ruenghiran) and his scene-stealing gang seem rowdy enough. Even the teachers uncannily resemble my own teachers. Kanokwan genuinely looks and acts like an ordinary upcountry girl, and Prompon, though a little too good looking for his part (but Im not complaining), fits his role as a quiet and timid new kid on the block. To me, both Kanokwan and Prompon appear believable as adolescents experiencing first love. The problem lies in their inexperience in acting, as they resort to using the exact same deadpan facial expressions and monotonous voices for both flirting and the tearful goodbye scenes.

Operating on a small budget and with a simple storyline, Just Friend has a sense of intimacy in which the audience has ample time to spend with the characters. It certainly does not wow the viewers but its filmmakers probably want the audience to treat it like our good friend, who is pleasant to be with and whom we accept regardless of its flaws.

 

 

 

 

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