Monday, December 27, 2021

Train of History

Come Here (2021) - Suwichakornpong Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 10.14.54 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.52.04 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.52.37 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.34.35 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.37.15 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.39.03 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.54.41 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.55.04 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.55.13 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.36.34 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-27 at 9.44.56 AM A group of young theater actors take a trip to Kanchanaburi, west of Thailand, where Death Railway, once a site for WWII atrocities where tens and thousands civilians and Allied POWs lost their lives in labor camps. But the museum is under renovation and closed. The group, consists of 3 boys and 1 girl, leisurely hangs out at the lake house, smoke weed, mimics animal noises and engage in mundane conversations.

In a parallel action, a woman who is camping in the forest seems to be lost. Dazed and confused, she finds a stream, drinks the water then changes into a boy. Then we see the lakeside bungalow scene play out again on stage, with a scenery shot from the train out the stage window, moving us forward.

In her previous films, Suwichakornpong engaged us in a socio-political history buried underneath the lush forest of Thailand, very much like the fellow Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Her approach is more clinical and getting more and more abstract with each new film. Come Here, clocking at just over an hour, is like a puzzle piece with some of the vital pieces missing - what's the meaning of the transformation? Is the camper dreamed up by the girl by the lake or vice versa? How does a Bangkok's zoo closing figure into the story?

With the country's train and railway having imbued historical significance, Suwichakornpong's new film charts progress, nature, harkening back to animism, the younger generations collective historical amnesia, and the country's physical and spiritual transformation... in such a mysterious yet seductive manner. Watching Come Here is not frustrating- it provides you enough of threads, not at all in a teasing way, to decipher and mull over its sinuous connections and implications regarding history and it's thrilling.

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