Thursday, July 27, 2017

Man and beast on the road in Thailand

Director Kirsten Tan makes his debut with Pop Aye, a film about a man whose mid-life crisis brings him into contact with an elephant he believes he knew in his youth. Thana (Thaneth Warakulnukroh) is going through a bad patch, highlighted by the imminent destruction of his signature work as an architect, a shopping mall that he hoped would be a place for families to experience relief from the pressures of daily life. Thana buys Pop Aye, the elephant in question, on a Bangkok street, vowing to return the animal to the country town where both Thana and the animal grew up. This turns Pop Aye into a Thai road movie, as Thana and Pop Aye make their way to the home of Thana's uncle (Narong Pongpag), the man who presumably will take care of the aging elephant. Getting Pop Aye back to nature gives Thana purpose in a life that seems to be shrinking by the minute. Along the way, Thana encounters a variety of characters including Dee, a man who claims to want to die so that he can join his brother in heaven. Jenny, a transgender woman Thana encounters in a bar, offers assistance. Like the lumbering elephant, Pop Aye can be awkward at times, but the movie genially conveys the power of a restorative link between a depressed man and his new best friend.

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