Current user rating: 98/100 (18 votes)
Sawatwong Palakawong Na Autthaya
||December 12, 2004
Pod’s a simple country boy from rural Thailand, and as he sets out for a new life in bustling Bangkok, his grandmother taunts him with a warning: everyone in Bangkok has a tail, she says, and soon enough, he’ll have one too. Sounds like a ridiculous superstition, doesn’t it? Perhaps, but keep in mind that once in the big city, Pod encounters all sorts of bizarre events and characters - exchangeable severed fingers, a rainstorm of red helmets, a ghostly taxi-cycle driver with advice for the lovelorn, a bitter, chain-smoking eight-year-old girl who has an abusive relationship with her talking teddy bear, and of course his salty grandmother, reincarnated as a gecko lizard. That Pod doesn’t react all that dramatically to any of this can be attributed to the fact that his attention is focused on one thing – the passionate crush he’s developed on Jin, a pretty young cleaning lady who largely ignores him, obsessed as she is with an foreign-language book that fell from the sky. Her mission in life is to find out what’s in the book, while Pod’s mission is to win Jin’s heart, whatever it takes.
A recurring comparison in reviews of Citizen Dog is to Jeunet’s adventure in surrealistic sweetness, Amelie, and it’s not too far off. Right from the rousing theme song and opening credits, it’s clear that this latest effort from noted Thai ad-clip director Wisit Sasanatieng, whose 2000 feature-film debut Tears Of The Black Tiger was the first Thai film ever officially selected for Cannes, is simply bursting with laugh-out-loud comedy, mind-bending weirdness, stirring romance and above all a deeply empathic fascination with ordinary people. Ordinary? In Sasanatieng’s gently mocking yet unquestionably big-hearted view, there’s no such thing as ordinary person. Gift-wrapped for the audience in a dazzling package of rich colours, brilliant composition and snappy editing, Sasanatieng’s lively, magic-realist meditation on one of the cornerstone conundrums of human life – how does one stand out while fitting in? – benefits from fine performances from the leads, pop musician Mahasamut Boonyaruk and fashion model Saengthong Gate-Uthong as Pod and Jin respectively, and the warm, lyrical narration by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, director of Last Life In The Universe.
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