Lee Chatametikool’s atmospheric debut feature Concrete Clouds, which has been touring the festivals for a little over a year now, is a story of love, memory and suicide, told partly through the medium of retro pop videos.
Following the death of their father, which seems more of a minor plot point than anything emotionally impactful, brothers Mutt (Ananda Everingham) and Nic (Prawith Hansten) are reunited after many years apart. Mutt, the more aspirational of the two, must travel back from his unfulfilling life in New York’s currency markets and a loveless relationship. He sets about putting the family’s affairs in order and attempting to rekindle a lost relationship with Sai (Janesuda Parnto), an actress turned marketing consultant hoping to save Thailand’s working mothers with “curry in a can”. Nic, by comparison, has never strayed too far from the nest and seems quietly content with little more than his affection for Poupee (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk), his self-destructive childhood sweetheart who lives in a depressive haze across the street.
In 1997, Chatametikool was living in the US and pursuing a film career. He remembers travelling back to a Bangkok that was locked in the midst of a post-boom recession, littered with abandoned and broken monuments from a wealthier time, a Bangkok far-removed from the one that existed within his childhood memories. Wishing to chronicle this feeling, the idea of memory – particularly the sort we all tend to distort favourably in our minds – is central to the film and its characters, all of whom are left stunted in some way because of it.
In this respect, Concrete Clouds deals with some interesting themes, and the use of pop montages (while garish and deeply grating to anyone who doesn’t watch a great deal of Eurovision) works well as a means of conveying them. Where the film falls down slightly, however, is in leaving too much of the character depth open to interpretation. Given Milan Kundera’s quote that precedes the opening scene, “The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past,” a little more of the past in some cases would have helped bring out the film’s more engaging characters. While very well portrayed by the cast, they unfortunately come across as a little too mysterious as a result. This is a promising debut, but one that’s likely to leave audiences wanting.
Concrete Clouds is released nationwide on 26th June 2015.
Watch the trailer for Concrete Clouds here: