“Concrete Clouds” – 2013 Busan International Film Festival Review


In his directorial feature debut, “Concrete Clouds,” Lee Chatametikool turns the clock back to 1997, the year of the Asian financial crisis.  However, despite a well-known Thai cast, and a potentially multi-layered observation of love in a time of depression and mourning, the story unfortunately never really gets going.

The film begins with the suicide of the father of two brothers, Mutt (played by Ananda Everingham) and Nick (musician Prawith Hansten).  Mutt and Nick in some ways represent their father at earlier stages in his life – Mutt, as a stockbroker based in New York who quickly returns to Bangkok upon hearing the news, and Nick, who must decide whether he should follow his older brother’s footsteps to relocate to the States.  The suicide itself, however, is not what overshadows the film.  Instead, what holds both men back is a reassessment of the women in their respective lives, who again represent similar timelines in different stages.  Mutt still holds a flame for his ex-girlfriend from high school, Sai (Janesuda Parnto), his image of her mired in a more innocent pre-New York time period.  While the teenage Nick does not carry as much emotional baggage yet, he must resolve his steadily failing relationship with Poupee (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk).  Cutting through their stories are music video and karaoke interludes, with typically overlit cinematography showing dream sequences and flashbacks, some to happier times, others an exaggerated foreboding of events to come.

With such promising material, it is a shame that very little actually happens in the script.  Several scenes, such as Mutt hanging out with friends in a strip club and Sai’s begging-to-be-edited appearance on a talk show extolling the virtues of the working woman, only tangentially support their characters’ respective epiphanies.  When Sai in particular reaches hers, it is accomplished in such a trite fashion that it smacks of insincerity.  The same, alas, can be said for the rest, and with such an abrupt resolution, one wishes that “Concrete Clouds” could have allowed the audience to carry the same heavy burden that the four leads tried to show, but couldn’t quite release.

“Concrete Clouds” screens at the Busan International Film Festival on Oct. 9 and 10.