Transistor Love Story

2001 [THAI]

Comedy / Drama / Musical

IMDb Rating 7.3 10 908

Keywords:   love, musical, pregnancy, marriage, singer

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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by simon_booth 10 / 10

Beautifully crafted and original movie

I picked this movie up because it was "Voted Thai best film of 2001" - though I had serious reservations about doing so when I saw the artwork, which makes it look like a terribly sugary romance. I'm glad I decided not to judge this one by the cover, because what's inside is so much more than the wrapper would imply.

Pan and Sadaw are two young Thai kids growing up in a rural Thai village. Life is good - simple, but sweet. The two find especially large amounts of good in each other, and soon become sweethearts. They're very much in love, and Pan even bursts spontaneously into song to express this on occasion. Singing is Pan's other love in life, and he's jolly good at it too.

That's the part of the movie that resembles the DVD cover - very sweet and idyllic, but done so very nicely it is genuinely touching, even to somebody with as little tolerance for romance as myself. It lasts about 20 minutes As the voice-over observes, they could leave it there and have a very short but sweet movie that would have the audience smiling on their way to the exits. But they don't - the story continues, and develops into something far more complex and dark.

MONRAK TRANSISTOR is in some ways a debunking of the romantic idealism represented on the DVD case. It reminds the viewer that life is rarely so straightforward and co-operative in the modern world. The movie presents a far more realistic view of life and love, which makes it much more interesting. It reminded me a little of the exceptional Korean movie MY SASSY GIRL in that respect (possibly only because I rewatched MSG just before it though).

It is also very well made. Writer/director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang clearly had a strong vision of what he wanted his movie to be like, and he directs it with precision and skill. The characters are very well written, and brought to life by uniformly excellent performances. Lead actress Siriyakorn Pukkavesh deserves particular mention - her performance is one of the best I've seen. The movie is technically excellent as well - absolutely beautiful cinematography and soundtrack. It's no surprise to see Nonzee Nimibutr listed as producer, as he seems to be involved with nearly all the really intelligent and high quality movies coming out of Thailand in recent years.

The acting, cinematography and sound would be enough to make any movie stand out, but it's the story that really puts MONRAK TRANSISTOR at the top of the pile. It takes the characters (and the viewer) in quite unexpected directions, creating a unique and original movie. Nothing outlandish or bizarre happens - in fact the whole movie feels very realistic. That's what makes it unexpected - things don't turn out like they do in the movies

I believe MONRAK TRANSISTOR is Thailand's entry for the Oscars this year. I don't suppose it will win, because Thailand's movie industry isn't nearly important enough for Hollywood to want to grease its palms. Hopefully it will get the movie onto more people's radars though, because I think it deserves to be seen.

Strongly recommended!

Reviewed by dzong 8 / 10

A comic Thai "Odyssey"

I just saw this film at DC Filmfest 2003, and found it to be slightly flawed, but still a very charming story. I feel it was impossible not to like, although I see that some commenters obviously do not agree with me! I had actually been looking forward to seeing this film for quite a while, and I regret that I knew too much about the film, which ruined some of what would have definitely been "surprises". The story revolves around Pan (Phaen), a handsome village guy of about 20, who dreams of marrying his village sweetheart, Sadaw, and becoming a singing star. Unfortunately, Pan also has a lot of bad luck....REALLY BAD LUCK. Immediately after marrying Sadaw and getting her pregnant, he is drafted into the army. What follows is a musical comedy, melodramatic soap opera, chase scene action, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink tale of Pan's adventures as he tries to fulfill the second dream, which seems to take him further and further away from his first dream (Sadaw). While watching the movie, I was reminded of two classic tales of wanderers...The Odyssey and Candide...and anyone familiar with these tales will see the similarities as the male lead wanders the world (in this case, around Thailand), dreaming of his long-lost love (who sits despairingly at home) and meeting a variety of odd characters along the way (including Dao, a innocent-looking, promiscuous female singer, Suwat, his sleazy, gay manager, Siew, a poor migrant worker and a grizzled old policeman). Monrak Transistor meanders off track at times, but it is always entertaining. No matter how bad things get, it always manages to keep its sense of humor intact. You also get to see a lot of what Thai life is like, and more than once i was reminded of my vacation there a few years ago. The actor who plays Pan is somehow always charming and likable, despite what most Western audience would certainly consider some "f***ed-up" priorities. The actress playing Sadaw is even better, although her screen time is limited. I would recommend this movie to people who like an original story, and want to see a love story that veers WAY OFF the beaten path. Though not nearly as good as director Pen-Ek Ratunaruang's earlier effort, the manic, fast-paced, 69, I give it an 8/10 cuz it is so damned likeable.

Reviewed by taiaha 8 / 10

A Thai Pilgrim's Progress....

Watched this recently with a Thai lady - we both loved this film, that starts out deliberately naive and corny and descends into something darker whilst retaining a degree of pathos. The style of the film changes to meet the changing mood - the English subtitles are quite accurate, though some nuances are lost. All round good performances from the main characters Worth while...

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