Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
As the corpses pile up, this mordantly comic thriller proves that the steely resolve of one desperate woman is nearly impossible to bend. The second feature from New York-trained writer and director Pen-ek Ratanaruang, a key figure in the burgeoning Thai cinema, wryly comments on the fallout of a declining economy in modern Thailand while loading the narrative with notions of good and bad fortune.
When a merchant bank downsizes, secretary Tum (Lalita Panyopas) literally draws the short straw and is laid off. Sinking into the depths of despair, the demure Tum returns to her single apartment and contemplates suicide, but is interrupted by a knock at the door. Answering it she discovers a noodle box stuffed with several million baht just sitting on her doorstep. When she rashly decides to keep the money and escape to London her real problems begin.
Thugs from the local boxing gym turn up to reclaim the payoff they mistakenly delivered to her apartment. Their subsequent disappearance sets off an absurd series of events that conspire against Tum’s plans and turn her small apartment into a charnel house. Throw into the mix a nosey neighbour who thinks Tum is having an affair with her glory-hugging cop husband, a suicidal friend with boyfriend problems, and a horde of unsavoury characters from the Bangkok underworld all trying to get their hands on the missing money. — MM
It’s as commercial as anything from Hollywood – as was writer-director Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s previous feature, a crazed Tarantino spin-off called Fun Bar Karaoke… Ratanaruang spent eight years in New York studying at the Pratt Institute and working as a freelance illustrator and designer, which explains his mastery of American-style entertainment – though his Thai and global observations are no less striking. This picture might be described broadly as clever Hitchcock lite, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t also have pertinent things to say about the recent Asian economic crisis. — Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader