Ploy (Thailand; 107 min.)

directed by: Pen-ek Ratanaruang
starring: Lalita Panyopas, Pornwut Sarasin, Ananda Everingham, Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Phorntip Papanai

Chris says: "PLOY, the latest from Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, initially seems worlds away from LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE: it follows a couple checking into Bangkok hotel and is all rendered in washed out earth tones and barely audible ambient music on the soundtrack. Soon, a mysterious young girl with the film's namesake wanders into their lives. To say anything more about what transpires would be a spoiler, but if you see this one, just continually keep the film's title in mind. PLOY eventually delves into the earlier film's magic realism, and after having the rug pulled out from under me a few times, I found it to be clever, thoughtful, and in the end, a delight. 4 cats

"PLOY screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival"

Michael says: "At first, Ratanaruang's latest film PLOY seems nothing like his previous film, the dreamily divine LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE. A Thai couple have just arrived back home for a funeral after spending the last 10+ years living in the States. It quickly becomes apparent that their relationship has seen better days, despite their physical closeness on the plane and in the taxi to the hotel. When Wit leaves the hotel room to get a pack of smokes, and ends up spending the next hour or so in the hotel bar befriending the nubile, teenager Ploy while his wife Dang wanders restlessly in their room, it becomes evident. While looking for the luggage key in her husband's suit jacket, Dang discovers a piece of paper with a woman's name and phone number on it; her brow furrows and we wonder if after 7 years of marriage this is it.

When Wit invites Ploy up to the couple's room while she waits for her mother to pick her up in a few hours, things enter LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE country, where dreams and reality collide and intermingle. Are the housekeeper and the bartender really having steamy sex in one of the empty guest rooms? What about the brutal twist that delivers Dang to an abandoned garage in fear of her life? Ratanaruang doesn't provide any easy answers, but that doesn't make PLOY any less a joy to watch. High marks for the three principal cast members too. Together they erased any disappointment that the lack of Tadanobu Asano created. 4 cats

"PLOY screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival"

Bruce says: "After a twenty hour flight from Los Angeles, Daeng (Lalita Panyopas) and Wit (Pornwut Sarasin) have checked in to a hotel near the Bankok airport. They are in Thailand for a funeral. Daeng used to be a famous actress; she met Wit, a widower, on a trip to L.A. and left her husband, never looking back. They own a Thai restaurant, one that is likely very successful although the details are never presented. Their relationship has evolved to the point where they fight because they have nothing else to do. He most likely is a workaholic and she, a heavy drinker. That considered, it is not surprising that the central theme of the film is 'every relationship has an expiration date.'

"When they get to their room Daeng falls asleep but Wit is wide awake. He goes down to the hotel bar for a drink. A teenage girl named Ploy (Apinya Praddaphongsa) and a young drugged-out boy are the only other customers. Wit strikes up a conversation with the girl who is waiting to meet her mother’s flight several hours later. When the bartender begins to close up shop for the night, Wit invites Ploy back to his room to nap on the sofa. Daeng is not pleased to find her husband dragging a teenage girl to their room. Wit is not happy with Daeng’s attitude. Ploy is confused and tired. During the course of the next few hours all three fall asleep, having dreams of sex, drugs and murder. The most intriguing aspect of PLOY is the uncertainty over what is real and what is a dream and, if the latter, exactly whose dream it might be. The dramatic arc is fueled by the unpredictability of what might transpire before dawn arrives.

"The screenplay is clever. The acting is very good. Lalita Panyopas , star of Ratanaruang’s 6IXTYNIN9, is wonderful in this film as well. Both Pornwut Sarasin and Apinya Praddaphongsa are making their screen debuts. My big beef with PLOY is the bland visual design and uninspired cinematography. Granted most airport hotels are not artistically inspired. The challenge for the visual design team and the director is to create a visual vibrancy to engage the viewer. For me, PLOY simply does not measure up visually. 3.5 cats

"PLOY was screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival"

Thom says: "This is another film I saw with Bruce & Chris at the TIFF. Bruce might have said that the director is also responsible for the great LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE. I was mesmerized by the dream-like quality of the film & found the cinematography lovely. One of three films I saw at TIFF where one person sits on another’s face; I only mention it because it’s a rare sight in non-pornographic films. 4.5 cats"