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The Rashomon-inspired Outrage
  By Sorradithep Supachanya / 7 September 2011
 

 

 

Not to be confused with another Akira Kurosawas Rashomon-inspired film of the same name (a 1964 American western starring Paul Newman), ML Bhandevanob Devakuls period drama The Outrage (Thai title: U Mong Pa Mueng) is a faithful adaptation that masterfully transports the originals allegories to the Thai setting, while deepening the characters backgrounds and adding the directors signature lavished production.

Apart from the time and place, The Outrage follows a familiar plot: while seeking shelter from a thunderstorm, a young monk (Mario Maurer), a woodcutter (Petchtai Wongkamlao), and a disfigured undertaker (Pongpat Wachirabanjong) discuss a strange murder trial in which the accused (Dom Hetrakul), the widow (Ploy Sherman), and the dead husband (Ananda Everingham) through a spirit medium (Rudklao Amratisha) give contradicting accounts.

As with Rashomon, The Outrage ponders the subjectivity of truth. The bandit recounts himself as the most feared outlaw in the land who defeats even the well-trained warrior in a fierce swordfight. The wife feels betrayed by her husband and on the spur of the moment commits a crime of passion. The husband on the other hand sees the wife leaving him for the bandit and subsequently kills himself as a proud, noble warrior should. Who tells the truth and who lies? If attitudes and beliefs bias our perceptions of reality, is there such thing as the truth?

And the film reiterates this tone throughout, from wide-angled shots of the forest canopy blocking sunrays (truth clouded by perceptions) to the dilapidated tunnel where the three storytellers sit (human heart as a dark, deep labyrinth). At the end when the young monk learns an important lesson about the human nature, the raincloud disperses and gives way to the sunlight.

Adding his signature to the classic story, director ML Bhandevanob Devakul juxtaposes the main narration with scenes detailing background of the young monk, the husband and wife, and the woodcutter, thereby enriching their characters. Set in a fictional northern Thai city in the sixteenth century, the cast is adorned in lavished costumes and the set is decorated with elegant antiquities. The film score appropriately incorporates Buddhist chants to reflect the storys exploration of the human nature.

 

 

Ananda Everingham once again proves he is his generations gem, expressing so much with only his eyes as his role requires him to be hand-tied and gagged most of the time. Veteran actor Pongpat Wachirabanjong becomes so immersed in his undertaker role that the audience can sometimes forget his real self. Stage actress Rudklao Amratisha shines in her brief moment as the spirit medium. Regrettably, talented actresses Ploy Sherman as the widow and Daraneenuch Potipiti as her mother give overacting performances that border on a slapstick comedy.

Save for these disappointing performances, the film excels as a testimony of the humanitys dichotomy between good and evil, greed and sacrifice, and truth and lies. Started with an excellent source material and elaborated to enrich characterization and production, ML Bhandevanob Devakuls The Outrage succeeds as one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking films this year.

   

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