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Handle Me With Care

  Anchalee Chaiworaporn / cross-published in 2008 Far East Film Festival Catalogue
   
 

ʹ t.l.: kod

Thailand, 2008, 119 mins., Thai
Dir: Kongdej JATURUNRUTSAMEE
Scr: Kongdej JATURUNRUTSAMEE; Art Dir: Pornanan Aongjaroen; Ph (color): Naruephol Chokkunapitak; Ed: Pattamanadda Yukol; Prod: Jira Maligool, Chenchonnee Soonthornsaratul, Chatwarin Klainark .
Cast: Kerttikamol Lata, Supaksorn Chaimongkol
Subtitles: English
Source: GMMTaiHub


Handle Me with Care was one of the most awaited film of the year by seveal reasons. First, it was the third feature of Kongdej Jaturunrutsamee, one of the countrys best scriptwriters. Kongdej gained both local and international repitition from his second pic Midnight My Love. Secondly, for the first time, he moved to work with another lead studio GmmTaiHub, the prototype of urban feel-good filmmaking. Its planned road-movie style about two unhappy people with their looks sounded a breakthrough among the overflooded horror and comedy. Unexpectedly, Handle Me with Care seemed not to be so liked by Thai audiences, despite its heartwarming construction and nice performance of lead actress Supaksorn Chaimongkol.

Kwan, a country boy who was born with three arms, sets his trip to Bangkok, for a surgery on his unwanted arm. Through his life, he had always been proud of being The Special as his mother called. At school, he was the best volleyball player, the fastest blackboard cleaner, and etc. Kwan faces the reality, when his mother passed away. People try to avoid communicating with him as much as possible, because his third arm is seen as the sign of bad luck. So when his personal tailor-maker suddenly dies of heart attack, Kwan realizes that he had to get rid of the third arm, because he cant no more find a new tailor-maker who wants to communicate with and make clothes for him.

On his trail, he rescues a young woman from being raped. Na is also on her trip to look for her husband who disappears some time ago in Bangkok. Like him, she finds her big boobs become a danger rather than a sexy look as seen in most peoples eyes. The two faces up-and-down lives and hardships while travelling on the road - being hunted by a gangster, losing money to Kwan gambling friend, and stealing the donation money to buy food.

Handle Me With Care offers several experiences that transcends common GTH-branded feel-good boundaries. It is a road movie by someone in the marginal world two unimportant, and actually unwanted persons, in small northern towns. And then most scenes were set in nice, rural, greenery locations, folk-song soundtrack, like a nostalgia to the simple old Thai lifestyle. We are heartwarmingly introduced to join the adventure of two people on the roads, feeling good with some cold truth. Na, for example, asks Kwan to spend their last penny to make a call to her mobile phone, just because she has not long received any calls for a long time. Kwan does not allow Na to steal money from a donation box, because it is for the disabled. But suddenly, this good atmosphere is interrupted by a group of lunatic, strange-looking gangsters. In many times, the film drags out the feeling too long and then it is not quite easy to keep audience alert in that move. Director Kongdej also put too many combinations in one film folk song, comedy, love story, and etc.

Nevertheless, Handle Me With Care still has several nice parts that deserves to be collected in memories. Sexy actress Supaksorn Chaimongkol also made a nice switch from her image as a daring, sexy, and crazy role, to become a simple country girl abandoned by her husband.

Director

Kongdej was born in 1972 and started to enter the film industry in 2003 with his co-director Kiat Kongsanan in Sayew. Since then, Kongdej has been widely acceptable as one of a few Thai good scriptwriters. He also wrote the scripts for The Letter (Paoon Chanthasiri (2004), Noohin The Movie (Komgrit Treewimon, 2006), Me Myself (Pongpat Wachirabanjong), 2007). He had been widely known in the festival circuit with his second feature Midnight My Love (2005). Handle Me with Care is his third feature. He is also now writing the script for Nonzee Nimibutrs epic Queen of Lungsaka (2008).

2003 Sayew
2005 Midnight My Love
2008 Handle Me With Care

   
 
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By Sorradithep Supachanya / 5 March 2008

   
 


Handle Me With Care starts off on a strong note. A tragic, yet hilarious, death of the towns tailor sends his most loyal patron, a three-armed man, on a road trip of his lifetime. But, instead of letting this splendid opening scene set the bittersweet tone for the rest of the movie, director-writer Kongdej Jaturanrasamee (Midnight My Love) morphs the story into a fragmented comedy that later curiously transforms into a sad drama and somehow ends with a supposedly romantic hug, perhaps just to fit with the literal translation of the movies Thai title. The plot features so many comical mishaps that the story becomes as lost and confused as their protagonists are, and the movie ends up being another one of those could-have-been-great Thai films.

Handle Me With Care tells a simple story about two people who want what they dont have and have what they dont want. First is a three-armed man, who hates his extra left arm and is traveling to Bangkok to have it chopped off. But what he initially fails to realize is that he only wants someone who accepts his peculiarity, like his late tailor friend and unlike everyone in his village who laughs and gossips at the sight of him. The other is a big-breasted woman who goes to Bangkok to find her long-lost husband. But what she is really searching for is any man who will love her beyond her large asset, unlike many nearby men who often try to grope and violate her.

The movies biggest weakness lies in its road trip segment, which twists and turns in a rather aimless fashion. A misadventure with a gang of debt collectors, a police incident, and a problem with the immigration are, at best, momentarily funny. But they never seem to add to the theme of a humans innermost desire for unconditional love and a sense of belonging. The road trip never induces the two protagonists to share their thoughts or realize what really matters to them (i.e., the need to rid the extra arm or the longing for acceptance; the search for the long-lost husband or the yearning for a loving man). In all of these scenes, the audience sees them arguing much more than bonding, and it bewilders no one that the supposedly romantic kiss turns out to be anything but that.

Kiatkamol Tui Lata, winner of Thailands most popular star search television show, makes a fine feature film debut as Kwan, the three-armed man. He succeeds in communicating the frustration of being seen as a circus freak, as well as the secret crush he has on his traveling companion. Kwans third hand (credited in the film as hand talent) also deserves special mention as it/he flawlessly moves in sync with Tuis actual hands. Thailands sexy star Supaksorn Kratae Chaimongkol (also known in real life as having a large asset) also does a good job portraying the upbeat and slightly quirky Na, and her telephone scene in which she contemplates what to say to Kwan as the mobile phone credit runs out is notably quite sweet.

The director once mentioned that elements in this film represent Thailands current political mess. But with perhaps the exception of the aimless road trip that leads to nowhere, I fail to see how food poisoning, the two-tree parable, and the cheating bus driver stand for any particular political events. Maybe Im just not well-versed in local politics.

Or maybe Thailands politics is not eccentric enough.

 

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