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Loveaholic : Stay Drunk on Love and Never Sober Up

 

Sorradithep Supachanya

 

31 July 2006

   
 

In Loveaholic, screenwriter Rong (Udom Note Taepanich) and baker Daeng (Vissa Sarasas) a long-time married couplestart experiencing a loss of passion when Rong visits a brothel for one-night stands with prostitutes and Daeng meets and falls in love with a handsome local gynecologist named Raksa (Akkara Amatakul). They soon discover each others secret and have a terrible fight, which causes Daeng to run off and accidentally drive her car off a cliff. Wrecked by sorrow and guilt, Rong starts noticing strange events around the house and believes that his wife has actually come back for a second chance to rekindle their romance. What happens afterward, thankfully, is not a ghost tale but a beautiful human story about forgiveness, compromises, and commitment.

Phuping Ping Lamprapleng Pangsa-ard, a veteran television show writer, cleverly inserts enough twists to steer the film from being a ghost story or an average romantic comedy (unfortunately, I could not risk spoiling your enjoyment of the film by revealing these twists). However, Rongs phasmophobiac scenes seem one too many and Daengs ghostly visit seems too long even though it nicely leads to the subsequent segment.

Regardless, Ping Lamprapleng attempts to break the norm of recent Thai romantic comedy by maturely examining post-marital relationshipa rarity in Thai cinema. He asks tough questions, like whether it is more wrong to cheat emotionally (i.e. Daeng developing an intimacy with Raksa but no sex) or to cheat physically (i.e. Rong having sex with a prostitute but no emotional attachment), or whether the key to a successful marriage lies in making compromises and turning blind eyes on certain behaviors.

In addition to writing the film, Ping Lamprapleng also directs it. And he does a fine job for a first-time movie director. I particularly like how he repeats certain elements throughout the film, such as blinking (e.g. eye blinks, star twinkles, and lighthouse flickers), contrast (e.g. a verdant tree next to a leaf-less tree), and steady and uncut kissing scenes between Rong and Daeng and between Raksa and Daeng.

Ping Lamprapleng also includes another subtlety in the films original Thai title Rak Rong Daeng, which is a word play that takes the name of the three lead characters and turns them into a Thai phrase meaning a love withdrawal symptom (hence the English title Loveaholic). However, the studio reportedly dislikes that title because the word Rong sounds like another Thai word that means down.

The three leads satisfactorily deliver their performances. Note, one of Thailand s few successful stand-up comedians (and Ping Lampraplengs long-time friend), finally returns to the big screen after an eight-year hiatus since Chatrichalerm Yukols The Box in 1998. He proves he can do drama and romance as well as comedy even though his character in Loveaholic, as well as in The Box, is not so different from his real life. Newcomer Vissa cries buckets of tears throughout this film but should have displayed more range of emotions. Akkara has the looks and charm that fit his character but somehow he seems uncomfortable the entire time. Regardless, the three still manage to carry the movie through.

All in all, Loveaholic is a good film but it is also more than just another Thai film. It is Ping Lampraplengs mausoleum for his late wife who died in a car accident before they could make up after a fight. He writes, directs, acts (in a minor role), and even sings the heartfelt end credit song. Much of the plot is based on Ping Lampraplengs life and the film even sets in his seaside house. In the end, he wants to tell to audience his most painful lesson: if you argue with your loved one, make up before it is too late. Passion may die during the marriage, but love lasts forever.

 

 

 

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