Hi-So (2010)

February 28th, 2013
Author: Meredith Taylor
Director: Aditya Assarat
Cast: Ananda Everingham, Cerise Leang, Sajee Apiwong
102mins  Thailand   Drama
HI-SO (Thai for High Society) eavesdrops on the life of a young graduate couple: Ananda and his American girlfriend Zoë (Cerise Leang). It’s a slow-moving, contemplative affair from Thai director Aditya Assarat, who brought us Wonderful Town (2007), told in English and atmospherically captured on the lens of Umpornol Yugala in a landscape still recovering from the Tsunami of 2004.
Ananda has returned to his homeland and takes a job acting in a new movie for a ‘famous’ director.  This leaves Zoë bored and hanging around the appartment making trite comments all phrased as questions: “there’s no people”, “i broke a nail playing the guitar”, “maybe I shouldn’t have come here”.  Newcomer Cerise Leang’s performance is so wooden and one dimensional it’s a relief when she finally disappears, presumably on a flight back to America to get her nails done.
Not surprisingly Ananda wanders off and pretty soon he’s caught the eye of May (Sajee Apiwong), a Thai girl who’s more lively but equally low on real depth, although again he fails to relate to her on any meaningful level and most of their time together he’s reading the paper in a pose of condescending intellectual superiority.  It’s clear that American-educated Ananda is from a priveleged American-influenced background and used to doing very little of real worth and the girls he engages with are just waiting for a man to take the lead. So is Assarat trying to tell us that Thailand is still a mans’ world except for the few rich women such as his mother who hold the cards (quite literally) and gamble?

Despite its appealing aesthetic, Hi-So offers no real insight into modern Thailand or the “high society” it purports to represent other than showing us plush filming locations of a luxury beach hotel, empty apartment building and the odd bar full of people mooching around wearing tracksuits.  It’s difficult to relate to the characters and the largely meaningless and facile narrative and so one cares very little what happens to them which is not very much. It also takes nearly two hours to do so. Certainly not on a par then with the slow-burning but affecting work of of fellow Thai Apichatpong Weerasethakul.   MT

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