สนับสนุนโดย สำนักงานศิลปวัฒนธรรมร่วมสมัย กระทรวงวัฒนธรรม Supported by Office of Contemporary Art And Culture ,Ministry Of Culture

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Unseen Beauties in Invisible Waves

 

Sorradithep Supachanya

 

23 February 2006

   
 

Kyoji is a man of few words. He floats through scenes like ghosts invisible to others. He blankly stares at the Hong Kong skyline and the waves of the South China Sea. The weather is always gloomy and Kyogis physical space is often claustrophobic, but that is nothing compared to how he feels inside. This atmosphere persists throughout Invisible Waves and its story sometimes seems stuck in low gear. This highly anticipated thriller from director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang is a film that has be felt rather than seen. The film is certainly not for everyone.

The Pan-Asian team that brought you Last Life in the Universe reunites for another masterpiece. Thai screenwriter Prabda Yoon continues to amuse us with plenty of interesting intertwining characters and dark humor, such as a shower room mishap and an endless conversation about door lock troubles. Hong Kong-based Australian-born cinematographer Christopher Doyle meticulously shoots the film inside tight spaces or, if outside, at night or early dawn. He makes every shot beautiful, dreamy, surreal, and puzzling which are perfect reflections of Kyogis inner thoughts. Finally, Japanese star Asano Tadanobu delivers another impressive performance as a quiet, expressionless, outwardly calm assassin, wrecked with inner storms of self-destructive guilt and vengeful anger. His blank stares are always multi-layered, as the audience may never know if he is pondering lifes philosophies or emptying his mind of his past actions.

Invisible Waves also feature Thai actor Toon Hiranyasup playing a mafia boss Wiwat hiring Kyoji to kill his adulterous wife, South Korean actress Gang Hye Jung playing a beautiful stranger Noi with whom Kyoji runs into during his escape from Macau, Chinese actor Eric Tsang playing a Buddhist monk dispensing more than just religious advice, and Japanese actor Mitsuishi Ken playing a karaoke-crooning assassin hired to kill Kyoji.

The story takes Kyoji from a former Portuguese colony Macau to a Hong Kong Buddhist temple, on a strange cruise ship, and finally to the Portuguese section of Thailands Phuket island. The similarity of these settings suggests that Kyoji has never actually gone anywhere unless he deals with his inner emotions.

Like Last Life in the Universe, Invisible Waves may frustrate the audience with its slow moving plot and prolonged scenes like Kyoji searching for his room on the cruise ship and at a Phuket hotel. And, the films climax comes near the very end and for such a short period. But again, like Last Life in the Universe, Invisible Waves demands the audience to be absorbed into the film, to feel it rather than see it. Like its title, the most beautiful parts of the film are invisible to the naked eye.

Prior to its Thailand premier at the 2006 Bangkok International Film Festival, the Thai Film Federation ruled Invisible Waves ineligible for this years local movie award because it was not Thai enough. After watching this film, I wonder too whether or not this film is really Thai. It is a multinational collaboration with a single Thai lead actor and minimal Thai dialogue. It is certainly a new strain of Asian cinema. But, a Thai film? That is hard to say. "What makes a Thai film anyway? A film does not need one nationality to be great."

 

 

 

 

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