Monday, April 07, 2008

The Love of Siam (2007)



The Love of Siam (Chukiat Sakveerakul, 2007)
Thai Title: Rak haeng Siam

To label Chukiat Sakveerakul's The Love of Siam as simply a gay teen romance is to misjudge its power and intention. Within the two and a half hour running time (the director's cut is reportedly four hours long) of the film, Sakveerakul essays not only the two young leads' reunion and inevitable attraction but also a family's slow and painful road to accepting a long-delayed reality. I would like to think that The Love of Siam, above everything else, seeks to reaffirm the life-affirming values of loving and being loved without sacrificing the portrayal of the very palpable pain that usually accompanies the emotion.

The twenty-minute prologue tracks the histories of young Mew (Arthit Niyomkul) and Tong (Jirayu La-ongmanee), who are both schoolmates and neighbors. They form a very close friendship which was abruptly ended when Tong's family had to move out when Tang (Laila Boonyasuk), Tong's elder sister, went missing during a trip in Chiang Mai, causing the family tremendous and irreparable sorrow. Years later, Mew (Witwisit Hirunwongkul), lead singer and composer for an up and coming boy band, again crosses path with Tong (Mario Maurer), who is struggling at home with his domineering mother (Sinjai Plengpanich) and alcoholic father (Songsit Rungnopakunsri). The two reconnect and inevitably fall for each other, disrupting whatever peace they have grown accustomed to.

To make matters more complicated, Mew's Chinese neighbor Ying (Kanya Rattanapetch) is hopelessly in love with Mew, not knowing of his homosexual tendencies. On the other hand, Tong is currently dating Donut (Aticha Pongsilpipat), presumably not knowing of his own homosexual tendencies too. Tong's family, more specifically the father who's been spending days and nights drinking, is still suffering from the loss of Tang. June (also played by Boonyasuk), Mew's band manager who looks a lot like Tang, is then recruited to pose as the long lost daughter, momentarily easing the father of his staggered pains.

The Siam in the title refers to Siam Square, a shopping district in Bangkok where most teens hang out to shop, dine, meet, and have fun. Siam Square, in the eyes of the Bangkok youth, has become both the place for welcomes and farewells, of declarations of love and hurtful break-ups, of chance encounters and scheduled meetings. In the film, the popular venue is not only the setting for Mew and Tong's reunion and the numerous other events in the story but it also represents the unpredictability of the many facets of love which the film so intricately paints. While Siam Square or any other shopping mecca are ordinarily thought of as accessories to the bastardization of love and romance because it commonly equates blatant commercialism with the love's outward depictions like dating, gift-giving, and hanging out, The Love of Siam uses that very element to depict love's many wanderings and permutations. Underneath the glow of the traditionally amiable romance, The Love of Siam strives to say something more about the act of loving, whether romantically or familial: that it is more a nebulous network-like journey to maintain hope than a straight path to the assumed happy ending.

In fact, The Love of Siam ends without any of its characters fulfilling the traditional conclusions of a love story. There are no happily-ever-afters or expected closures. Instead, the film ends with a mere spark of hope. That hope that closes the film actually opens up million of possibilities for its characters, as numerous as the countless fortuitous encounters in Siam Square that initiate relationships between strangers or abruptly conclude long-standing affairs all within the fateful movement of time. Sakveerakul drafts a bittersweet ode to the complexities of loving, which commercial cinema has tended to avoid throughout the years. What he exclaims in The Love of Siam is that daringly traversing outside the common simplicities of love is far more gratifying than safely assuming formula.

Through the interconnected lives of two boys who are on the verge of self-awareness amidst their own individual conflicts and the people surrounding them, Sakveerakul notes that love survives notwithstanding the dilemmas that pervade the world. As Ying translates from a Chinese song, "as long as there is love, there is hope." Corny as it sounds, the Bangkok of The Love of Siam thrives on that noble aspiration, without knowing that it does so.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well-written, indeed!

Oggs Cruz said...

Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

this is the best film ever!

thanks for the discovery!

life-changing...

Kuya Fuji said...

Very well written, kabayan.

TLOS opened me up once again to o some soul searching.

I hope I can get the DVD w/ English subs.

I also wrote a TLOS review on my newly-started blog, http://tekitomyum.blogspot.com

I hope you could drop-by my blog too!

Kel said...

Great thanks for your article.

I did see the movie last night; and it has been a really hearted-affect movie for years.

Everyone is deserved to love and to be loved, i think.

Anonymous said...

Very nice review! I still hope that there is a part 2 of this movie where Mew and Tong will get the happiness they deserve. Especially for Mew. I'm still moved by this story and I cannot help crying every time I watch this over and over again!

Anonymous said...

That's an impressive and in-depth review of a fine movie. Definitely one of the most tasteful movies to have come out of Bangkok for a while yet.
Hope there's a part 2.

Well done to the 2 leads !

GENESIS said...

Nice review oggs. The acting in this movie is great specially from the mother.

The ending is very open and I also hope for a sequel.

moyau808 said...

This has got to be the BEST review so far on this movie. I can't wait for the DVD with english subtitles to hit America. I been wanting to share this with my friends since it first came out!

Thanks again for doing such a great recap.

Aloha

christian. said...

I thorougly enjoyed your review of LOS. For once, I'm glad someone out there put emphasis on the importance of its virtues, rather than the gay love story.

My only gripe was at times, it can be a bit too self-admiring in its excecution. Especially with the monologues that appear towards the end of the film. But it is meant to be a commercially accessible film after all so.

As a fellow filipino-aspiring lawyer (wannabe), I've been meaning to comment about the wide array of films you chose to review. hopefully i'll get myself to view som of mendoza's work (i'm a newbie at filipino cinema).

Oh and have you seen the taiwanese film "eternal summer"? A movie with similiar gay themes but not really a love story. Would love to hear your take on it.

Oggs Cruz said...

Thanks everyone...

Christian, I haven't seen Eternal Summer yet. So many movies to watch, so little time. I'm sure you'll experience that too once you start working. Where are you studying law?

Anonymous said...

BEST gay romance movie i've ever seen!


love your review,dude

Glen said...

Thank you! I finally found why it ended that way. It bothered me for days so I'm thankful to have stumbled upon your blog! XD

I'll add you up to my blog list! XD

Anonymous said...

exquisite review pal but pardon me, i think i'd still prefer the safe formula for love where two persons end up happily in each other's arms. i just bleed for MEW who really deserves TONG more than anything. As for TONG, he could be so much more with MEW. Well, that's the beauty of movies without any conclusive ending, the viewers can make their own. And as for my ending...

TONG: Mew, you know I can't be your boyfriend but can you be mine?

MEW: Yes, I'm all yours.

And they lived happily ever after... (hahaha)

Anonymous said...

aww that previous post above gave me goosebumps lol. this is indeed a very well written review. I just have one problem though. Ive seen most of the people watched this movie cried a lot. Though as much as i wanted to cry watching it. I didn;t. i dunno why. I usually cry to sad movies. BUT GUESS WHAT...I STILL CAN;T GET OVER IT. I CAN;T MOVE ON LOL. probably because i didn't cry and so i think i need to cry it out so it would leave my system....boohoo..

i hope there's really a sequel to this. and this time...happy ending awaits.

send your regards to the TLOS director- Chookiat Sakveerakul's email matthew.chukiat@gmail.com and tell how you like the film so much . (i found his email somewhere)

Anonymous said...

i still don;t understand how this film turned a big hit internationally. don;t get me wrong...i soo love the movie but c'mon. the instant fame is kinda weird. to think that this film was low budgeted and the main actors (mew & tong) are relatively new to showbiz. i have read that this was pchy's(witwisit hiranyawongkul) first film and i was just impressed how this boy instantly turned famous right after the release of TLOS last November 2007. I salute chukiat(director) for his strong guts to get fresh inexperienced actors from nowhere and eventually turn them to superstars instantly. gaaaahhh i think im being just bitter. koz i know the Philippine cinema. let's put that in local context.. can you imagine Star Cinema would ever dare to get inexperienced actors from nowhere when there comes john lloyd cruz or piolo pascual? look at our actors now? who actually became known internationally? what films we've made became talk of other countries and established foreign webboards? sad.

now you get the picture why I'm wondering tong and mew became instant famous when we know we have better actors here in the Philippines.

please enlighten me :(

infinity8 said...

Hai, LoS syndrome is killing me :( The movie for me is all about separation--the main plots and sub-plots.. :( Sir, I'm reposting your review in my blog since this is the best I have seen so far :)

Oggs Cruz said...

Thank you. By all means, repost. Just acknowledge me as author.

Anonymous said...

Great review for a great movie! I watched this film about 5 days ago and I'm still watching it every night. This is the only movie I've seen that has affected me this way. I love this movie so much! There's just so many memorable and touching scenes that I kept watching over and over again. I even made a CD copy of the songs so I can play it in my car. I'm really hooked!

f.ryan said...

Very well written.

Love the movie too. :D

Gadfly said...

hei, just dropped by to say that its refershing to read of your point of view of the film.

anyway, i love the movie because it feels so real. the fact that they hired relatively new actors add to the authentic vibe of the film. and geez, it's about young love for pete's sake. who wouldn't melt?

i still can't get over the film. i am that affected.

Anonymous said...

what a friggin disappointment this movie was. and i was really looking forward to seeing it because of all the hype. i found it too long, and lacked so much depth. yes, it had the kilig moments, but it had so many unnecessary elements and subplots and it was really trying to push the melodrama too much that i was praying the film would end soon. it was like watching an overly extended episode of maalaala mo kaya. i think filipinos do a better job with this kind of genre - mainstream or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry but are you the original composer of this review?

i swear it is the third time i have read it today while im in search for LOS comments.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The Love of Siam is definitely one of the most honest gay-themed movies I've ever seen.I totally love this movie.The other great ones are Eternal Summer(Taiwan) and Shelter(USA). Thanks for your enlightened review.

Oggs Cruz said...

Thanks to all the anonymouses,

To the one who asked if I wrote this, yes I did. Unfortunately, this is the internet and stuff will always be copied, pasted, and more often than not, without the permission of the original author.

Pazu 薯伯伯 said...

This is a comment of Love of Siam I wrote on the IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1152282/usercomments-20


I give it a rating of ten because I believe this is a movie on this rare topic (teenage love, gay love, family love etc) which you won't find in a decade, that the emotional shock and storyline have a long-lasting effect, the director/writer left you a huge space for further imagination.

The story of Tong and Mew was well written, showing unaffected simplicity and lack of guile, while reflecting quite truly of the Thai society and the rather open attitude towards homosexuality in Thailand.

No "coming out of closet" scene for Mew and Tong, the affair between the straight-acted Tong and Mew was a gossip between nosy friends only but not simply rejection or opposition, nobody expects some friends of Tong would give any trouble to warn Mew to stay away. Comparing Get Real (1998), another coming-of-age movie based on a similar story in Britain, Steven was bullied by John's friends, gossips were more dangerous for the future of both the British boys, but only a funny topic for the Thai counterparts.

Pressure from Tong's mother, urging Mew to stay away from Tong for the sake of his future, shows another common attitudes towards homosexuality amongst Thais, Thais are traditional and tend to think it's others business to choose who to love, but better not happening in the family.

Family plot, while a bit distracting from the main plot, was still attractively written. The relationships between Tong's parents, the effects on the family on the loss of the sister, the conversations inside the family, were subtly expressed and cleverly written.

The director/writer left a great space for the audience to think about the plot, to create a long-lasting climax.

Tong's alcoholic father was saddened to see his wife eating cold rice while serving him hot dishes, realizing how much she loved him, perhaps that's the end of their deadlock? June suddenly recited some detailed description of a photo taken in Chiang Mai, leaving many to wonder if June and Tang are the same person? Tong was afraid to upset his mom when decorating the Christmas tree and was then told to choose whatever he thinks be correct, (then Tong chose the boy doll). Is it like a consent from his mother to continue the relationship with Mew? Tong told Mew that they could not be lovers (impossible happy ending) and said "But it doesn't mean that I don't love you" A possible happy ending? Take whatever answers you like to hear, I think these are some of the core elements of this movie, letting the audience to think about the plot, with lots of possible outcomes.

In the DVD version, there was a non-subtitled part with narration from the director, he said he was asked so many times if June and Tang were the same person, he refused to answer and hoped the audience to think whatever they like.

Talking about the many open endings, perhaps it's only my imagination, but I do think Tang and June are the same person. Here's a possible plot:

Tang had an accident in Chiang Mai, she lost her memory and was adopted by some local farmers. The farmer parents didn't tell Tang the truth and called her June instead, June decided to move to Bangkok for better future (Chiang Mai's Amphoe Muang is quite a big city with lots of chances indeed, most people living in the urban area don't feel the need to go to Bangkok for a better future, except those from the rural areas). She met Tong's family in Bangkok, regaining some of her childhood memories, but was afraid to admit that the Chiang Mai late parents she loved and stayed with most of her live, weren't her blood parents. When Tong's father asked her why Tong's eyes were bruised in the photos taken in Chiang Mai, June could answer with such details that Tong was hit in a football match before coming to Chiang Mai (it was a lie made up by Tong and Mew, they actually had a fight with other kids), I think the director deliberately gives such details to leave a better room for the audience to further their imagination.

And about the ending of Tong and Mew.

While Tong said that he couldn't be lovers with Mew, "but it didn't mean that he didn't love Mew", giving another open-end to the storyline. Considering the okay signal from Tong's mother ("Choose whatever you think it's correct", said Tong's mother while decorating the Xmas tree), the rather open attitudes among friends and the deep love between Tong and Mew, it's only a matter of time for the sparks to explode again, indeed it was never diminished.

The movie ends with Tong giving Mew a Xmas gift, a missing piece of nose of the wooden doll, which Tong gave Mew as a present when they were still children.

Mew bid farewell to Tong and went back to his room alone, putting the wooden nose back to the doll, saying "thank you", crying quietly.

I think this is the climax of the whole movie, it is as if Mew finding back his long-lost love since her granny passing away. Mew once mentioned to Tong that in the past 5 years, he felt "so lonely, so terribly lonely, that he still couldn't stop missing his granny", he said "he understood this as a part of life, but he wondered if he could stand it anymore to separate with somebody he loved most".

Tong gave him an answer by giving him the missing wooden nose. Separating or going together, their love is not diminished. Kind of contradicting, but it's very touching.

Prince Ragasa said...

nice job.. this blog article is very well-written..

and i also like the comment from IMDB =]

i really hope for a second part of this film, a such example of a great & well-prepared movie. KUDOS!

Anonymous said...

Well, since nobody here has given emphasize to (Kanya Rattanapetch) Ying's character. Let me give her a simple review.

Without Ying, this movie would not be a great as it is, Ying had contributed fun, emotions & tears with every scene she was in. Without Ying, the famous quote & line of the Film’s OST will not be completed, “As Long as you love, there is hope”. & the missing nose of the wooden Sta. Claus doll will not be given to Mew.

Ying’s, “obsession & craziness”-her rituals of putting Mew’s hair at the Teddy Bear while not eating meat for three days, The 99 thorn less red roses, the flipping of Mew’s shoes that can make Mew love her back. This was one of the funniest moments of this film.

Ying’s “Rejection & heartbreak”- the scene where ying translated the Chinese song & where mew finally knew about Ying’s Admiration for him,
Mew: “So Ying, are you still hoping?”
Ying: “And Should I Still Hope?”
Mew: “Ying, you are a good friend of mine”
& then Ying just smile. Even though she’s hurting 



Ying’s “Acceptance & letting go”- in spite knowing mew is sort of gay & learning the special friendship between him and tong, she still continued to love mew, She even helped & comfort Tong in his time of confusions. Finally let go & accepted the fact that mew loves tong. The concert scene where the August band were performing, the time Ying looked at tong’s face while watching mew singing, it was very meaningful & caught up my emotion and the time Ying take off her hand with tong’s, just to let him to go to finally talk & give the missing nose of the wooden doll to mew.

The scene where Ying cried with her friends, without telling them the reason why she cries, coz she don’t want others to know about mew’s homosexuality. That scene might be a little but it flows through my spines…

Ying’s True Love is why I repeatedly watching this fim. 

Anonymous said...

i love the movie... the write-up was written very well... very good job sir!!!
i love this movie because it touches everyone's heart, family, friends and even lovers... though the story is about two lovers of the same sex, i think it still not enough to justify that it is indeed a gay movie... the two guys maybe have this kind of intimate feeling because of their good strong bond of friendship...
a light flow of the story yet simple but excellent...

MUST WATCH!

Anonymous said...

i hope you get to watch the film frozen flower or ssanghwajeom. i would love to read your review of the film. thanks.

tollywood masti said...

a very nice emotional movie...

thanks for sharing

keep updating the blog

with regards


Tollywood masti

tollywood masti said...

thanks for sharing

joey said...

Hi Oggs, been looking for an LOS review online (want to see how people liked it) and yours is prolly one of the best :) just watched the movie again the other night and cried much harder this time. like most "art" this movie has to be seen over and over again to fully appreciate the story its sharing.

this movie reminds me of "love actually" in the sense how each one is connected and the different faces of love... a mother's love, a wife's love, unrequited love, young love, selfish love just like what was written at the end of the film "to all the loves that bring us to life"

I appreciate that this movie is not so cliche and I totally get it... makes me sad for Filipino films and how we need a total breakdown to actually make people cry. I cried in this film during those tender moments.... when Korn realized that Sunee eats the cold food for lunch, when Ying looks at Tong (while Mew was using) and she realizes how much Tong loves Mew... the subtleties make all the difference.

as for the ending... i wouldnt want it any other way... imagine the ending where Tong and Mew actually got together... the movie wouldnt really as much impact as it had to the audience. oh and i appreciate the fact that there was no hot sex scene... kudos to the director... absolutely amazing film

Oggs Cruz said...

Thank you Joey!

scribbler19 said...

Hi, this is the first time I visited your blog. I am not really into film reviews but I am so in with TLOS. You see, I am a gay and this movie depicted that, like other people, we gays also yearn for love and that only a few can have it.

I haven't actually watched the whole movie. (i hope I can, soon) I just stumbled upon it in the net more than a year ago and since then i have always been captivated by it.

More than the gestures, the story, the plot and the music; what made me hooked up with Tong and Mew is the bizarre look in their eyes everytime they deliver their lines-- soft, sincere, heart-warming, innocent.

This movie made me hope that one day I will also have my love story. Not just the sex and the companionship but the real love. Hahai...Until then, I guess I will always dream and whenever I lose hope, I will just remember the LOVE OF SIAM.

Mr. Cruz, you really did wrote a commendable review, keep it up. And I hope to see more romantic gay love stories in the local scene, not just hot sex. I still believe we will all come to this.

Thanks again for making my day.
Stay Frosty...

Anonymous said...

it hurts! as much as possible i avoid watching the movie...i just watched it twice yesterday

im finding the courage to not watch it again...
its depressing...if only i knew what the ending would be then i would have just stopped watching up to the kissing scene!...ack

i think there would never be a movie like LOS and i hope if they ever make a movie similar to this...they will also think of the viewers feelings, how could u hurt me like this what did i ever do to you?!....wahahaha

HuHU...
-NooBy

Anonymous said...

i thought im d only one who cant get over the film after watching it... what's with this film?! i think there's sum kind of magic in here...

Anonymous said...

this is a well-written review, i'm glad you have focused on what the movie is intended to offer its viewers, the deep realizations are overwhelming and I can't get over it!!!!! hahaha.

i love this movie! :D

Anonymous said...

i love the trailer.
unfortunately i haven't seen the movie yet. I love the way how they showed the bitter reality of gays. Though some of us lived happily, but most of us are still searching for that one true special love.

<3

Anonymous said...

i really cried over this film. i spent the night crying in my room. i just can't take the scene where tong told mew that they can't be lovers anymore but it doesn't mean that he doesn't love mew anymore.then he gave the nose of the santa doll...T.T

And the scene where tong's mother asked tong to choose what's best for him. Then tong chose the santa doll...

I love the portrayal of their love. It was so pure,honest and innocent.

I don't know how to get over this film... the best.... I wish, people can appreciate it behind its sexuality issues..

T.T

Anonymous said...

just stumbled upon this review while surfin...love it!!!!!!!!!! and i really love the film too!!! such a tear-jerker..:(

Terasius said...

I understand that this movie was looking at all forms of love and that family and friends can revive people. The reality remains, however, that romantic love also sustains, and that was not allowed to be explored on any level, gay or straight. The relationship between Mew and Tong wasn't ended for some cosmic purpose about finding each other when they're ready, nor was it a consequence of a mature decision on the part of the two characters involved. The relationship's demise was a fulfilment of a Catholic mother's declaration that she is not raising Tong to be gay. In fact, there is a different focus and feel to the movie right after the mother's confrontation with Mew. For me, the movie was over at that point. Very disappointing.

William said...

Wow, what a great review!! The last two paragraphs speaks to me; thank you for putting something so intangible into words. I'm looking forward to read more from you.

William

Anonymous said...

Great movie and a great review! Each character has a purpose in this movie. The song is the highlight of the movie. This is my first Thai movie.

Anonymous said...

great review...while my friends laugh at me thinking that only sissy people are inspired watching gay themed films i was able to proved them wrong saying your line..."The Love of Siam, above everything else, seeks to reaffirm the life-affirming values of loving and being loved without sacrificing the portrayal of the very palpable pain that usually accompanies the emotion"...i hope pinoy movie makers can immortalized such kind of films, hindi lang puro profit at commercialism, something like this...real, passionate,awakening,inspiring... salamat for this nice review...

Kraven said...

Twas a long time but finally i get to comment in this blog which i find very interesting...i did watched LOS before and watched it again after 3 years and the effect still remains...loved the movie...even sang the song gae lan gae in bangkok in a gathering when i was there last year...love this review to bits...maybe because i can relate to tong and mew's story...and just like mew i have a bestfriend who is dear to me...crossed our bounderies... but we have decided we cannot be together...he refused to watch LOS before,when he found out what the plot of the story was.. Well hope he is fine wherever he is now...again love the review...

Anonymous said...

i just watch this show recently and here i am hooked with this movie. i know how hard it is to fall in love and my life reflects those of mews experience. but lucky for mew he has felt the love he wanted from tong, not like me i haven't. for quite a long time. i never love a movie and watch it over and over. but this movie captured my heart. it simply reminds me that in this lifetime. someone out there is meant for me. though mew and tong parted ways for sure a new and more wonderful life is ahead for them. love is about understanding and accepting the reality. it is not changing, it is constant. though from years it seems vanish but it is in the heart. just waiting to spark the light again. indeed, the story is amazing and it keeps on winning every watchers. it depicts real life stories. real life scenarios that movies and dramas are not offering. it is a movie that i can call, a story for a lifetime. i am waiting for the part two of this story and how will the love story of mew and tong will end.

Mr. Hoping said...

thank you Oggz for this sort of movie review about "Love of Siam", which I have watched few minutes ago. I was really mesmerized by the movie, and two thumbs up for your blog.

kamagra said...

Is about living life to its fullest, about accepting the pain of existence, but capturing every moment as if it were a miracle.

Ryhn said...

I feel you. Finally rewatched LOS. I put off watching the movie a 2nd time because of the heart wrenching effect it had on me 3 years. It's a movie I love so much! But hate so much to watch. Really wish it had a happy ending though :(

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great review! For myself,im gay. But no one knows that, not even my parent. Im too afraid to be rejected by my family and friends ;(
Hopefully i can find myself a true soulmate like mew. Well atleast mew felt the love. :')

Alic Balmes said...

Great Review. I fell in love with this movie. It was all about hope and innocent love. I loved it so much that i went to BKK last June to visit the sites.. it was amazing..

http://alicinwonderland.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-love-of-siam.html