Directed by Apitchatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand, (2002), 119 minutes

An unknown author once said that “love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.” Blissfully Yours, the second feature from Thai director Apitchatpong Weerasethakul, is a film about ecstasy that happens outside of time. It is roughly divided into two parts - one ordinary, the other transcendent and is without a typical plot or character development. Rather, it speaks directly to the human spirit, to its capacity to transcend the “stuff” of life and reach for the eternal.

Blissfully Yours begins in the small Thai city of Khon Kaen as Min (Min Oo), an apparently mute young man with a skin condition visits a doctor together with his girlfriend Roong (Kanokporn Tongaram) and Orn (Jenjira Jansuda), an older woman who has lost a child by drowning. Shot in the offices of the director’s doctor parents, we soon learn that Min is a Burmese immigrant who is in Thailand illegally and is seeking a work permit from the doctor in order to remain in the country and that Orn has been hired to look after him. Without proper ID, however, the doctor refuses to cooperate.

The film then moves to the souvenir factory where Roong works on an assembly line worker hand painting Disney figurines, and then to Orn who prepares a skin cream for Min by chopping vegetables. There is also a glimpse of the office where Orn’s husband works. About forty five minutes into Blissfully Yours, credits suddenly appear on the screen, we hear a Thai popular song in the background, and we know that we in unfamiliar territory. Taking time off from work because of an illusory illness, Roong and Min drive to the countryside for an afternoon picnic recorded in long, uninterrupted takes and the film never looks back. Stress fades away as scenes of nature replace the familiar images of city life. Roong and Min walk through dense jungle to reach an opening in the woods with a clear view of mountains and streams.

Not much is said as the camera lingers on Roong and Min as they eat berries, splash in the cool waters, and engage in erotic activities that seem to be initiated by Roong alone as she caresses Min’s sexual organ in full camera view. There is much attention given to bodies and their sensitivity to touch especially when we learn that Min’s rash is both physical and political. Through a voice over and doodling shown on the screen, we find out that he has hiding from the Burmese police for an undisclosed reason, has a son in Rangoon, and may have picked up his skin rash while hiding in a septic tank. It is also hinted that Roong is a member of the Karen ethnic group, a hill tribe that have fought for independence from Burma since 1949.

Weerasethakul pushes viewer patience to the limit as shots of Roong snuggling up to the passive Min take several minutes to unfold and one is reminded of Werner Erhard’s assertion that boredom is a “high space” to be in. Orn, who is also enjoying sex with a male companion, has her tryst interrupted when her lover’s bike is stolen and she makes her way through the forest to join Min and Roong. As Roong and Min lie on their backs looking up to the sky sharing moments of peace and spiritual awareness, Orn lies alone and begins to cry. It is a moment of quiet isolation filled with mystery and magic as this visionary, sexually explicit, and sensual work of art becomes blissfully ours forever.