Tropical Malady

#55 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series counting down the most acclaimed films of the previous decade.

We’ve heard that love’s a bitch, and a battlefield, but in the 2004 Thai film Tropical Malady, writer/director Apichatpong Weerasethakul tells us it’s a tiger too. Or at least that’s one interpretation. Actually, at times it can be hard to know exactly what Apichatpong is after. As with the filmmaker’s later Syndromes and a Century (reviewed in a previous incarnation of this series), Tropical Malady divides neatly into two halves, but the way the halves relate to each other is different. In Syndromes, the different parts of the film are symmetrical, like parallel lines – they relate similar events in radically different surroundings. Malady on the other hand connects it’s first and second half with a joint and then lets them spin in entirely different directions, until the thread connecting them seems stretched awful thin. The two halves are perpendicular rather than parallel – maybe they’re better considered as two separate films, but here they are presented together, their interconnections left for us to tease out.

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