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

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Ploy
 

By Sorradithep Supachanya

   
   
 

 

With a rocky marriage, twilight hours, and half-lit rooms, Pen-Ek Ratanaruangs post-marital relationship drama Ploy operates in a perpetual in-between state, torn between two poles, where things are neither one nor the other, sort of like a fork in the road or the Pisces astrological sign of two fish swimming in opposite directions. Ambiguities and juxtaposed contrasts are liberally applied in the films cinematography, plot, and characters throughout the film, almost to the point of gluttonous indulgence that requires a strenuous exercise of the mind, yet still manage to maintain this persistent in-between state. This is exactly what makes this little film interesting and delightful to watch.

The plot exhibits this odd in-between feeling right from the beginning. Arriving at the Bangkok airport at the crack of dawn, a time when night turns to day, couple Daeng (Lalita Panyopas) and Wit (Pornwut Sarasin) are tired and jetlagged, and are always neither fully awake nor asleep as they shift in and out of dreams. Shortly after, Daeng discovers in Wits jacket pocket a suspicious note with an unknown womans telephone number and starts questioning their relationship. Wits perplexing invitation of a female stranger Ploy (Apinya Saipan Sakuljaroensuk) to their hotel room further exacerbates Daengs discomfort over her husbands true intentions.

This in-between state is also inherent in the characters. Daeng and Wit are a Thai couple returning home for the first time after spending a decade abroadwhat a strange mixture of familiarity and dislocation they must have experienced. Emotionally, they reach a junction of their seven-year marriage, as love and chemistry begin to fade and each party ponders separation. Similarly, the character Ploy finds herself in between some things, like on the verge of turning 19, or trapped in between Wit and Daengs disintegrating marriage and a passionate lovemaking of a bartender (Ananda Everingham) and a hotel maid (Porntip Cartoon Papanai).


 

Clever camera works and superb cinematography further augment this atmosphere. Certain objects appear onscreen to separate Daeng and Wit, such as a balcony window or mirror reflections. Sometimes the shot is taken from a distance across the room as if to separate the viewers from the couple. Moreover, curtains are always closed and rooms are often half-lit even during daytime, almost to maintain a constantly dark and gloomy tone, reflective of the protagonists moods.

When these elements synergize, the end result is a surreal and dream-like film that truly deliver the sense of being stuck in an in-between state. Of course, the film is not without flaws. Its plot may be too simplistic for some and too ambiguous for others. Ploy seems to suggest that a rocky marriage worsened by thoughtless acts can still be saved, given both parties are willing to put in extra efforts to be a little more attentive and a little less dramatic. At the same time, Ploys many unexplained actions and unclarified intentions may evoke different interpretations, as some viewers may suspect that the character Ploy is in fact a fragment of Daengs imagination provoke by the suspicious note or Daengs near-fatal rendezvous with a malicious stranger simply Wits fearful thought after he wakes up to find both Ploy and Daeng have abandoned him.

Besides Daeng, other characters are given limited range of actions and emotional expressions and thus acting is a bit too average. Character chameleon Ananda and Cartoon are certainly more capable than a few making-out scenes, and newcomer Saipan and businessman Pornwut look their parts but had too few appearances to make much impacts. Lalita Panyopas (who has previously collaborated with Pen-Ek in the crime thriller 6ixty-Nin9) gives another impressive performance of a wife stuck in between love and lost, caught between emotions and logics, and torn between dreams and reality.

Ploy is a fascinating film and an intriguing cinematic experience, but it requires substantial efforts and patience from the audience. But, in my opinion, it is worth it.

   
   

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