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Thread: Blissfully Yours

  1. #1
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    Blissfully Yours

    BLISSFULLY YOURS (Sud Sanaeha)

    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.

    GRADE: A
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

  2. #2
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    I'm glad you chose to review this film. I think Weerasethakul is one of the three or four great filmmakers who emerged in the 2000s. He has been working in short form since Syndromes and a Century (2006) but there will be an episodic feature film by "JOE" released next year under the title:Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Can't wait!

  3. #3
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    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by oscar jubis View Post
    I'm glad you chose to review this film. I think Weerasethakul is one of the three or four great filmmakers who emerged in the 2000s. He has been working in short form since Syndromes and a Century (2006) but there will be an episodic feature film by "JOE" released next year under the title:Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Can't wait!
    I'm definitely looking forward to any new work by this director. Thanks for commenting on my review.
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

  4. #4
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    An exercise in patience

    "Blissfully Yours" was originally released in 2003 and made its way around the world in a variety of film festivals since that time. It was and still is banned in Thailand due to its erotic nature (supposedly some of the X rated shots were cut as earlier versions of the film seem to contain more sex scenes that are present in the current version). While some reviewers found it an interesting "art film," others have labeled it "boring beyong belief" and "an example of a student film gone awry." It definitely takes a certain kind of person to appreciate this work. The film is available via Netflix. I found the long silent takes with no dialogue so difficult to watch at times that I had to fast forward my way through the film to see its point. However, the point is really one of languid reverie. One is reminded of Debussy and how his music flows without seeming purpose or conclusion. Its sets a mood. If you do not mind that kind of approach to film (or storytelling), then I would agree with Howard... this is your kind of film.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  5. #5
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    Reviewers

    Thanks for your comment. I report on a film from my own experience and, while I do weigh other reviewers opinions, it is never a deciding factor. Obviously, Blissfully Yours is a different kind of a film, but I think most viewers would know that beforehand.
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

  6. #6
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    I was wrong when I posted that the new film from Weerasethakul will be released next year. It will have its world premiere at Cannes next month along with new films from Abbas Kiarostami,Mike Leigh, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

  7. #7
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    All the better

    Quote Originally Posted by oscar jubis View Post
    I was wrong when I posted that the new film from Weerasethakul will be released next year. It will have its world premiere at Cannes next month along with new films from Abbas Kiarostami,Mike Leigh, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
    Sounds like a good lineup but I will probably have to wait until the Vancouver Film Festival in September to see many of them.
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

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