Saturday, October 01, 2011

YOU AND I (2011, Saifah Tanthana, A+++++)

What I like very much in this play, or what I think is interesting in this play, includes:

1.The dilemma of the characters. The play makes me ask myself what I would do if I were the heroine (Wanatsanan Sasom). I don't know if I should:

1.1 Tell my best friend about what happened, so that she would know the real behavior of her boyfriend. But I don't want to keep the hero (Anupong Sakulmongkollarp) for myself. I just don't want my best friend to have an unfaithful boyfriend like that.

1.2 Tell my best friend about what happened, so that she would dump him, and I would have him for myself.

1.3 Don't tell my best friend. Don't talk to her boyfriend. Act like a virtuous, extremely nice heroine. But I think the secret will weigh too much on my conscience. I think if I choose to go on this way, I will feel awkward and guilty every time I meet my best friend.

1.4 Don't tell my best friend. Be the secret lover of her boyfriend. But I don't think I can do something like this.

After thinking about these choices, I think if I were the heroine, I will choose No. 1 or No. 2. According to the situation in the play, I don't think I will feel ashamed of myself for the fact that I "unknowingly" have sex with the boyfriend of my best friend. But I will feel bad for myself if I don't tell my best friend the truth about what happens. The truth will surely hurt my best friend at first, but I think if I lie to her, the lie will hurt her much more in the long run.

In conclusion, I like it very much that YOU AND I makes me really contemplate about this issue. Most films and plays don't make me seriously think about the problems of the characters like this.

2.I seriously think about the dilemma of the characters, because the play doesn't give the audience easy answers. And I like this kind of thing very much. At the end of the play, the heroine is left with difficult choices. I can't guess what will happen in her future. I can't guess what she will decide to do in the future. All I know is that whatever she decides to do in the future, someone will get hurt. There's not a choice which will lead to "a happy ending for everyone".

The dilemma of the heroine weighs on my conscience. And I like this kind of thing very much. It is the opposite of such Hollywood films as SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE (2003, Nancy Meyers), in which Diane Keaton suddenly dumps Keanu Reeves at the end, and doesn't seem to feel guilty at all, or THE WEDDING PLANNER (2001, Adam Shankman), in which the hero dumps his girlfriend at the end, and he doesn't have to feel guilty for it, because his girlfriend "suddenly" doesn't want to marry him!!! There are many films like this. If YOU AND I was like this kind of films, the best friend would be portrayed as a villainess, so that the audience would feel that she deserved to be cheated by her boyfriend. Or the boyfriend would turn out to be a bad guy at the end, so that the heroine and the audience would be able to decide very easily what the heroine should do.

Fortunately, YOU AND I is not like that kind of films. There's no villain or villainess in this play. YOU AND I gives us really tough choices.

3.Though there's no villain or villainess in this play, the hero is not "a really nice guy" in my point of view, but a flawed human being like us. I think his main flaws are his cheating on his girlfriend and his attempt to open the forbidden box.

I like the moment when the hero tries to open the forbidden box very much, because

3.1 It's the dilemma of the audience. In that situation, the audience knows that opening the forbidden box is not a good thing. It is not the right thing to do. But the audience wishes that the character would do the wrong thing by opening the box, because the audience wants to know what is inside that box. That moment in the play lays the guilt on the audience, and makes the audience partners in crime.

3.2 It is like a symbol of rape in my point of view. The man uses force to enter the forbidden box of a woman. This moment in the play unintentionally reminds me of "the symbol of rape" in the film LOLITA (1997, Adrian Lyne), in which Jeremy Irons put his fingers inside Dominique Swain's mouth so that she would disgorge the thing which annoys him.

3.3 It is the test to measure how good the hero really is. If he is really a good guy, he will not open that box.

However, one thing I like very much about the hero is that he seems to want to tell the truth to his girlfriend. I like this kind of thing. I think it's better to have an affair and tell the truth than to keep it a secret.

4.The heroine is not flawed like the hero, but the play still can make her look like a real human being, partly by the great performance of Wanatsanan, and partly by her peculiar behaviors, especially her categorizing of things according to different emotions, and her collection of songs which "can make her feel good instantly". I like the play's focus on the heroine's habits very much.

5.The tone of the play. I like it very much that the play seems very natural or very real for me. It is not too melodramatic. It is a little bit romantic at times, but not too much.

There are some moments in the play which seem to be a little bit boring. The excitement drops in these moments. The characters seem to talk about something unimportant or do something unimportant. But I like these "undramatic" moments very much, because these moments seem real to me. The play doesn't try to capture "only important moments" in our lives, but it tries to present us what happens in real time between the hero and the heroine in the morning after they first had sex. Because it tries to present what happens in real time, the play should also include "undramatic", "unimportant", or "boring" moments like these, because our real lives are full of these moments. Our real lives are not mostly made up of "dramatic moments" in which some ultimate truths are revealed, something important happens every minute, or everything we speak is worth remembering or analyzing.

I'm not sure if the "undramatic moments" in the play come from the intention of the director or the playwright or not, but I like them very much. These undramatic moments remind me of one of my most favorite quotes of all time from Ray Carney, my favorite film critic. Ray Carney said that Mike Leigh and John Cassavetes "show us how extraordinary the most ordinary life can be. They show us that it’s not the complexity of events that makes for interest but the complexity of a character’s feelings.

The turning points in life usually occur in the simplest settings and situations. Not racing somewhere in a car, but sitting in a room and suddenly realizing something. Not yelling and screaming, but reading a magazine and feeling bored or discouraged. If you feel your character has to have something extraordinary happen to her to make her interesting, ask yourself why ordinary life does not matter enough to hold your interest."

6. Like what Ray Carney said, YOU AND I fascinates me because it presents me "the complexity of a character's feelings", including:

6.1 The hesitation of the heroine. She doesn't know what she should do. She doesn't know how she should handle the situation. At first she tries to force the hero out of her house, because it's what she thinks she "should do", but is it the thing she really "wants to do"? She seems to like him a lot, and she must fight with herself. A part of her wants him to go away, so that her life would not be complicated, but the other part of her wants him to stay, because she feels good to be with him. I like it very much that the main conflict of the play does not seem to be between the hero and the heroine, but seems to be between the heroine and herself.

6.2 The complicated feelings of the characters towards the car key. I like it very much that while the characters are searching for the car key, they are not sure whether they would really like to find it or not, because as long as they don't find it, the hero would have an excuse to stay with the heroine.

7.The props of the play. I think it is very lovely that the stage of the play is adorned by boxes of small things. At first I thought these boxes are unimportant, but later these boxes turn out to be important and are one of the most memorable things of the play.

8.The "taste" of the play. I mean the play is like a cup of coffee which gives me a "bittersweet" feeling, but more sweet than bitter. I guess most sweetness of the play comes from the playwright (Wanatsanan Sasom), not the director.

The sweetness of the play fulfills my romantic longing or my sexual fantasy. I would be very glad to have a one night stand with a handsome guy like that or to have a guy like this fall in love with me. But the play also has its bitter parts when the characters face the dilemma.

In conclusion, I like YOU AND I very much for both its sweetness and its bitterness. Its sweetness fulfills my romantic fantasy. Its bitterness gives me a very difficult dilemma to ponder about.

9. YOU AND I makes me think about many films which deal with romantic relationships in a more or less natural tone. I think I can divide these films into two main groups. The first group is the films which present romantic relationship with a sweet taste or a bittersweet taste, like YOU AND I. The second group is the films which leave a bitter taste in my mouth forever.

9.1 The first group of films may include:

9.1.1 L'ÂGE DES POSSIBLES (1995, Pascale Ferran, France)

9.1.2 BETTER THAN SEX (2000, Jonathan Teplitzky, Australia)

9.1.3 DISTANCE (สิ่ง-ไหน) (2010, Chonlasit Upanigkit, 55 min)

9.1.4 AN ENDLESS ROOM (2011, Emerson Reyes, Philippines, 20 min)
This film doesn't exactly focus on the romantic relationship, but the long natural conversation between the lovers in this film reminds me of YOU AND I.

9.1.5 GOOD MORNING, LUANG PRABANG (2008, Sakchai Deenan + Anusone Sirisackda)
The ending of YOU AND I, in which the heroine wants the hero to spend some time to think carefully before deciding to do anything, reminds me of the ending of GOOD MORNING, LUANG PRABANG.

9.1.6 MY GIRLFRIEND'S BOYFRIEND (1987, Eric Rohmer, France, 103 min)
I wish I could screen this film with YOU AND I. I think this film and the play match perfectly. Reading the review of MY GIRLFRIEND'S BOYFRIEND in TIME OUT FILM GUIDE, I found many sentences which can also be used to describe YOU AND I. In MY GIRLFRIEND'S BOYFRIEND, the heroine "finds herself growing closer to her female friend's boyfriend. Questions of fidelity and betrayal, delusion and deceit lie at the film's heart, which is large indeed, extending ample compassion to the characters. Once again the performances of the young cast are miraculously naturalistic, and equally impressive is the director's mastery of mood." The review of this film also uses the words "gentle eroticism", "fraught with embarrassment and unspoken feelings", "funny, moving " and "an absolute charmer". These words and sentences can certainly be applied to YOU AND I, too.

9.1.7 MY SEX LIFE...OR HOW I GOT INTO AN ARGUMENT (1996, Arnaud Desplechin, 178 min)

9.1.8 WE DON'T CARE FOR DEMOCRACY (2010, John Torres, Philippines)
This film doesn't exactly focus on the romantic relationship, but the natural conversation between the lovers in this film reminds me of YOU AND I.

9.2 The second group of films may include:

9.2.1 BERLIN CHAMISSOPLATZ (1980, Rudolf Thome)

9.2.2 BLUE LOVE (ก่อนรักจะกลายเป็นความผูกพัน) (2011, It Khaena, 16 min)

9.2.3 BLUE VALENTINE (2010, Derek Cianfrance)

9.2.4 THE CRYING WOMAN (1979, Jacques Doillon)

9.2.5 DAMAGE (1992, Louis Malle)

9.2.6 THE LACEMAKER (1977, Claude Goretta)

9.2.7 THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE (1973, Jean Eustache)

9.2.8 THE PHANTOM HEART (1996, Philippe Garrel)

9.2.9 THE SCHOOL OF FLESH (1998, Benoît Jacquot)

9.2.10 THE THINGS OF LIFE (1970, Claude Sautet)

Wanatsanan is 25 years old, and I wonder whether the plays that she will make in the future will correspond to the second group of films or not. I think the more you grow old, the more likely you may feel bitter towards life. Anyway, I wish her plays in the future will turn out to be like the second group of films, because I like these bitter films very much. Hahaha.

10. Wanatsanan is always great in choosing songs for her soundtrack. I also like one idea in YOU AND I very much. It's the collection of songs which "can make me feel good instantly".

If I have to make a CD of this kind of songs, or if I have to make a film about a character who has this kind of CD, my CD will include the following songs:

10.1 BEAUTIFUL MORNING (1995) – Lisa Moorish

10.2 BRIGHTEST STAR – Drizabone

10.3 GOOD LIFE (1988) – Inner City

10.4 HEAVEN GIVE ME WORDS – Propaganda

10.5 KANOJOTO TIP ON DUO – Miki Imai

10.6 I SAW THE LIGHT – Workshy

10.7 IT'S A FINE DAY – Opus III

10.8 IT'S GONNA BE A LOVELY DAY (1992) – The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.

10.9 LOVESICK – Undercover

10.10 MY BABY'S HEARTBEAT – Eighth Wonder

10.11 ONE NIGHT IN HEAVEN (1989) – Wink

10.12 ROCK 'N ROUGE (1984) – Seiko Matsuda

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