When most Thai releases in recent years solely focus on delivering the popcorn entertainment, teen drama Love, Not Yet should be lauded for attempting to initiate dialogues on the prevalent problem of teenage pregnancy in Thailand. But with truncated plots and a superficial examination of the social issue, the movie regresses into just another teen movie with an excuse for a raunchy script.
Love, Not Yet opens with a fast-paced, swiftly edited, multiple-angled introduction of the three lead couples before cutting into each of the three separate shorts.
After Samed, the first short, centers on a young couples unnerving apprehension of the possibility of becoming young parents after their fateful evening at an island getaway. Shocking and discomforting, the story also offers a sweet surprise. Arguably the best of the three, the segment is benefited from symbolic cinematography that boxes the lead characters into tight spaces and clever editing that removes adults from the screen to make this short truly all about teens. Silkarin Phonyong (from Slice) and newcomer Sita Mahanwidejakorn are the ones to watch.
Im Mother, Im Wife, the second short, quickly builds up interest with eccentric characters doing eccentric things. The two young leads, Ratchapol Yamsaeng and Wannisorn Laohamontri in their big screen debuts, portray two high school dropouts resolved to stay hidden from family and neighbors to escape social stigma while the girl is pregnant. But by keeping the audience in the dark for too long, the segment wades through weirdness and ends with confusion. Excellent comic timing from the supporting cast makes it bearable.
Happy Birthday, the third and final short, sees a lesbian high school basketball captain getting knocked up in a one-night stand after having too much drinks and now deliberating what to do with her unborn child. Newcomer Arissara Lermuan deserves praises for carrying the heart and soul of the story. Though a great setup, the plot only manages to trifle with the pressing social issues of abortion, alcohol abuse, and sexual orientation acceptance. Deeper explorations of these issues would enrich the plot and strengthen the important message to both teenagers and parents.
In fact, all three shorts never make the attempt to truly explore the potential causes of teenage pregnancy. Is it education, poverty, peer pressure, or even the media? Teenage pregnancy also begs the question surrounding the fate of the childabortion, adoption, or single parentingall of which are disappointingly absent from the plots.
Love, Not Yet may speak honestly about teenage pregnancy. But it does so superficially that any meaningful dialogues on the social issue will be difficult. With that, a film that has the potential to start a chain reaction becomes just another popcorn entertainment movie.