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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.05.11] Thailand review drama



Year: 2010
Director: Aditya Assarat
Writer: Aditya Assarat
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 4 out of 10

Admittedly I wasn't certain what I was getting myself into when I sat down for Hi-so but with a title which is described as "sardonic Thai slang for "high society"," I at least hoped to get a bit of insight into what sort of trouble a guy in his early 20s and living alone in Thailand, could get himself into but instead, Aditya Assarat's film is nearly two hours of a guy doing nothing and reminiscing about his youth.

The very handsome Ananda Everingham stars as Ananda, a Thai who has recently returned home after studying in the US. In what I can only assume is a fit of boredom, he signs up for a movie. He's never acted but when you have time to kill, I guess anything is better that sitting around your dilapidated apartment. While filming, Ananda gets a visit from his girlfriend Zoe who comes to see her partner in action. She makes a few trips to the set but Ananda is busy with the whole acting thing and Zoe feels out of place. She doesn't know the language, no one really talks to her and after a few days of solace in an empty resort, she looks for company among the staff.


It's assumed Zoe eventually returns home because the next thing you know, Ananda has wrapped filming and we see him sharing a nearly bare apartment with May, a new fling he met on-set. The two seem content to share each other's company but where Zoe didn't fit in with Ananda's Thai life, May feels equally left out of Ananda's life with his American friends and he doesn't seem particularly interested in helping her fit in either. In both instances, Ananda is a distant character, the kind of guy people are attracted to but who can't hold a relationship; he seems too involved with his own life to care much for anyone else around him. I didn't really see the point of showing two relationships in which Ananda is distant – it's clear from the time he spends with Zoe that he's selfish – and the second story is largely uninteresting beyond providing a bit of background into Ananda's life.

Yet even that feels inauthentic. It's hard to feel bad for a guy who grew up with money in a nice part of town and has always been taken care of. The scenes of Ananda and May walking around the building owned by his mother reeks of pretention and I had a hard time feeling bad for the guy when he's talking about his mother traveling extensively and reminiscing about his childhood.

Though I cared for little of Assarat's film, I did like some specific scenes (Zoe celebrating a birthday with the hotel workers, May looking sad and alone at a nightclub, Ananda at the airport) but these are too few and far between to make the film worthwhile.

It was interesting to discover that Assarat shares a very similar upbringing with Ananda but the film doesn't show any hints that Assarat had any connection to the story. The lead character seems completely aloof and removed from those around him and the women that come through his life are no less mysterious. The film fails to build any emotional connection with any of the characters and I found myself losing interest with each passing moment. There was potential here for a beautiful exploration of culture and being an outsider in your own home, if nothing else Hi-so is a very pretty film, but ultimately, this felt like a pointless.

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