A Moment in June -- Film Review

BOTTOM LINE: A mood piece with the rhythm of a slow dance in an old music hall.

Pusan International Film Festival
New Currents

When made to take a chance on love, three couples -- gay, elderly and fictive, respectively -- engage in a melancholy rondeau of indecision and regret in "A Moment in June." Director O Nathaporn draws on his theater experience to devise an impressive crossover of cinema and stage through a play-within-a-film. Commercial prospects, though minuscule, lie in the gay content for specialist markets.

The film begins in Bangkok in April 1999, on a train bound for Chiang Mai. Phon is going away to take a breather from estranged boyfriend Pakorn. Later, in provincial Lampang, Arunya looks up her ex-lover Krung after disappearing 30 years ago. In flashbacks, Arunya and Phon exchange philosophies of love on the train.

Back in Bangkok, Pakorn directs a play set in 1972. Two couples arrange to see a movie together, but the heroine's fiance is abroad on urgent business, while the hero's wife has fallen sick. They fall in love and meet outside the cinema every week until they are forced to make a painful choice.

Recurrent sets, such as the train, the platform, the pier -- all signifying departures and farewells -- make the nonlinear transitions between the stories and different time periods smooth and thematically connected. The way in which stage sets during play rehearsals segue into "real life" (as represented by a film set) is especially magical and seamlessly edited.

This exquisitely wrought triptych structure achieves a poetic interface between the lovers' worlds, unfurling their identities like a mystery, to reveal finally that they are not only all related but alter egos of each other.

Beautifully composed, warmly lit and shot in sultry colors, "June" is steeped in the nostalgia of memory and of '70s Thailand. Scenes of heart-aching poignancy are enhanced by the classical cello score and a mellow Thai oldie, but the film is also painfully slow and needlessly wordy.

From the art direction to subtitles of dates and time, it is obvious that Nathaporn admires Wong Kar Wai. The play is reminiscent of the look and feel of "In the Mood for Love" -- perhaps too reminiscent, to the point of being derivative.

Cast: Shahkrit Yanmarm, Krissada Sukosol Clapp, Sinitta Boonyasak, Deuntem Salitul.
Director-screenwriter-producer: O Nathaporn.
Sales agent: Sahamongkol Film.
No rating, 106 minutes.
Director of photography: David Ethan Sanders.
Art director: Tomoya Imai.
Music: Robert Walker
Sound designer: Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr.
Editor: Lee Chatametikool.
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