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

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Kon Khon - Mask of Sorrow
  By Sorradithep Supachanya / 25 August 2011
 

 

 

Not since Itthisoonthorn Wichailaks The Overture (2004) has classical Thai performing arts been the focus of a cinematic experience. Sarunyoo Wongkrachangs second big screen directorial effort Kon Khon, about rival troupes of the khon traditional Thai mask dance, has many elements that work in its favor: an elegant production, an excellent score, and many shining moments from the two legendary actors. But its brilliance is weighed down by an overly complicated story and a preachy ending that summarizes a point not elaborated anywhere else in the film.

Story-wise, Kon Khon works as a film about double-generation rivalriesbetween the two khon teachers whose contradictory views on the merits of the arts set them on a collision course, and between their young prot?g?s whose rivalry goes all the way back to childhood. But after their competition at a temple fair, which would work as a climax, the story morphs into a voulu exploration of love and lust, and then finally concludes with a morbid parable of karmic punishments, a subject not touched upon in the preceding run time. Moreover, three love trianglestwo too manyprovide additional grounds for the unnecessary interstitial plot detours.

Dictated by tradition, khon always features lavished costumes and set production to go with its story about the battling forces of good and evil. Saraunyoo Wongkrachang, who wrote and produced as well as directed the film, went into great length to ensure its majestic presentation on screen. And he succeeded in doing so. Even all of the young actors are real-life performing arts students and khon dancers. The films score also receives a careful treatment to integrate classical Thai ensemble whose music typically accompanies khon performances.

 

 

But the films greatest moments come from veteran actors Sorapong Chatree and Nirut Sirichanya as the rival khon teachers. With four decades of acting experience, they never fail to impress whenever they appear on screen. While the plot grants Sorapong more chances to display a wider range of emotionsdefeat, regret, grief, and guilt, Nirut also manages to hold his own as the cockalorum whose unhealthy ambition eventually returns to bite him. My only disappointment is that there are simply too few scenes with both of these legends together.

Kon Khon provides viewers, especially those unfamiliar with classical Thai performing arts, a visual feast of graceful dances, extravagant costumes, and elaborate stage production not so commonly seen in the modern age of Hollywood action flicks and Korean dramas. Its complicate plot, if streamlined, could make this film one of this years most interesting offers.

   

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