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I Carried You Home - the journey just begins ..
  By Anchalee Chaiworaporn / 29 January 2012
 

 

 

Like the characters of two lead actresses who are reconciled with each other along the journey back home, first-time director Tongpong Chantarangkul needs time and experience to reshuffle the team in crafting his directorial debut before an ultimate reach of uniqueness. I Carried You Home becomes a should-be-good if it is their second or third film. The film might be everyones debut, except the two lead actresses.

The story itself is a little gem. Two young sisters-in-silent-conflict try to understand each other along the way they carry their mother's body back home in the south. Pinn cannot fly back from Singapore in time to see her mother on the deathbed. As the journey and rituals start (in carrying the mother corpse from Bangkok to the south), we learn to experience their earlier lives while the two sisters share the burial chores. Yes, we know something happened before then, actually between all the three characters including the mother. The film walks along two events - the day before and two-day after the mother's death, with an unexplained incident as a backdrop. And when it is revealed, it is so plain that we feel the lack of power. There is no need to be an emotional moment but at least something like going back home with victory, suffering or whatever, introspectively or cinematically.

A lot of camera methods were used to identify with the characters and the film's theme of journey. Shots were kept close to the three lead characters - Pann, Pinn, and the mother, sometimes at their backs, to reveal what are in their minds. Several tracking shots were repeated from left to right, or right to left, in the hospital or outdoor scenes, signify the film's road-trip atmosphere. And then we see deep-focus, hand-held, and sometimes out-of-focus, which I am not sure if intentional or coincidental. Like most young beginners, they want to experiment on everything which sometimes may not work out.

 

 

Most performers, including those minor roles like the aunt, need some more training. Akumsiri Suwannasuk as Pinn could not convince us of her long-kept scars and secrets, revealed at the end. The singing scene of the mother is simple but powerful. Yes, her voice is nothing special. But it is so natural with that beautiful song. Suddenly I almost burst into laughter, seeing the cause of her fatal accident. The ritual of carrying the body back home is perhaps the best part of the movie - simple, indigenous, but heartbreaking.

I Carried You Home might not be perfect, but Tongpong proves that he has some bright future if he has more budget and has worked on more films.

 

I Carried You Home Goes Nowhere
By Sorradithep Supachanya
20 September 2012 (Originally seen at 10th World Film Festival of Bangkok in January 2012)

 

Death is an excellent lifes change agent. It brings people together. It wakes up the living and shows them what is truly important in their lives.

This is precisely what happens to the lead characters from a new Thai indie film, I Carried You Home, Tongpong Chantarangkuls first feature film and a winner of the Asian Cinema Fund at Busan International Film Festival 2008.

Two estranged sisters reunite after their mothers sudden death. The elder sister Pinn (Akamsiri Suwannasuk) has run away from home, for which the younger sister Paan (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk) has held her longtime grudges. The two begin their awkward and uncomfortable journey to transport their mothers body back to their hometown in the deep south.

But the silence and inactivity run for far too long. The entire two-day road trip sees little effort from either party to reconcile their past. Flashbacks recount only the few hours leading up to the mothers accidental fall. So when Pinn reveals her reason to run away from home, the audience is left puzzled over the severity of the issues.

The movies suitably morbid tone is further diluted by comedic relieves from the ambulance driver (Torpong Kul-On). His character makes light of the seriousness of the situation but his attempt at being hilarious is laughable. He becomes an unfunny clown in a funeral.

Little is made use of the few facts that could empower the movie. For example, how does the fact that both Pinn and Pann are not at their mothers side during her last moments affect themselves and their views of one another? Why their absentee father never learns of his ex-wifes death? Does it anger Pann that the only conversations Pinn has with their mother are with her lifeless body. And does the fact that their hometown is located near the politically fragile Thai-Malaysian border have any connotation (after all, it is significant enough to be the Thai title of the movie)?

Tongpong does attempt to visually convey the symbolisms in his movie. His frequent shots of reflectionsPaan in a shiny ceiling, Pinn in an elevator door, and ambulance in the buildings windowsconvey the movies meditative element, life through a lens imagery. But as the plot progresses, these thought-provoking shots disappointingly fade.

Though most of the actors are newcomers, typical of an indie feature, the movie manages to secure two big names. Apinya Sakuljaroensuk (Ploy) reaffirms why she is one of the most sought-after young actresses of her generation. Her emotional expression and her concealed anger hit all the right notes. But Akamsiri Suwannasuk, despite her dense resume of TV soap operas and sitcoms, is deadpan and completely unconvincing as a grieving daughter and the elder sister wishing to make amends.

Gearing up to be an emotionally powerful, atmospherically reflective indie gem, I Carried You Home quickly loses interest and concludes with a trivial and disappointing ending.

   

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