The anthology format is nothing new in the world of cinema but Thai auteur Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit brings a bold and original approach to storytelling using this structure in his new feature Die Tomorrow.
Revolved around various ideas of death (the meaning of it, the suddenness of it, the causes of it), Die Tomorrow isn’t just a series of stories but also includes talking heads, audio recordings and on-screen factual texts. A ticking clock starts the film and there’s a clip of a young girl crying when she realises life isn’t forever, followed by a short fictional piece of a group of girls talking about living their dreams in America.
The clock-ticking is a distraction from the intimacy of their conversation until moments later, when a startling statistic of the global number of deaths per second puts things into perspective. The death counter runs throughout the movie’s brisk 75 minutes, and each narrative scenario is about the final day of life for its characters. Die Tomorrow is a meritable work about a heavy subject because it doesn’t show any deaths, avoiding exploitation in its examination of the human condition. Interviews with a child and a 104-year-old man provide fascinating perspectives on dying.
Die Tomorrow has a boxed aspect ratio, where the small confines of the frame guide audiences to concentrate on the personal lives and emotions of these characters. Performances matter very much here and, since the majority are fresh faces, it’s easy to accept the actors as believable, ordinary characters. They lend verisimilitude to the film and none of them stick out like a sore thumb, or are even a cut above the rest.
Many of the fictional pieces see the characters in their routines, doing regular things like nail-clipping and sleeping. Sounds boring but, in this particular work, these daily activities are rather eye-opening – they’re the last moments of these people’s lives and they don’t even know it. There’s no prophesying about the prospect of passing, only life being lived as if tomorrow will come.
These moments do beg the question, what exactly is Die Tomorrow trying to suggest? To live every single moment as if it’s our last? That’s impractical. To think more about the imminence of death? That’s possible, though not committable. To send gratitude to the most important people in our lives right now? Absolutely, and that’s a beautiful thing to take away from this audacious film.
Die Tomorrow does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Die Tomorrow here: