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Tropical Malady Reviews

Page 1 of 6
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

October 8, 2011
Two different stories in tone and narrative combined in the same film: first a naturalist, bucolic gay romance, then a mysterious, enigmatic tale of spirits in a dense forest. Even if creating an absorbing sensorial atmosphere, the whole feels loosely bound together, allowing of infinite interpretations and thus appearing vague and empty in its core.

Super Reviewer

September 17, 2008
Two handed Thai drama, the first part tells the story of a burgeoning gay male romance and the second uses the main actors in a traditional Thai folk tale. Atmospheric and certainly original but it left me cold.

Super Reviewer

October 6, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]The first half of "Tropical Malady" is about the romance between Keng(Banlop Lomnoi), a former soldier and forest ranger who is now unemployed and another man, Tong(Sakda Kaewbuadee). The second half consists of a soldier(possibly also Keng) hunting a tiger.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]This paradigm shift is similar to the device that David Lynch used in "Lost Highway" and "Mulholland Drive" but with limited success.(It does not really help these movies because it is the equivalent to pulling the carpet out from under the viewer.) And in "Tropical Malady", it has a similar disorienting effect. Maybe if I knew more about Thailand, then I possibly would have liked the movie more.[/font]
Anastasia B

Super Reviewer

November 22, 2010
Weerasethakul's film is hard to describe by regular terms. There is no story here, at least not the way you are used to seeing it. And there is a lot of patience that you have to have to go through the second part of the film, where the camera is just following the hunter through his long journey into the jungle. But I must say I felt that my patience paid off at the end. I loved the ending (which I won't describe here for I wouldn't like to write a spoiler): so simple, so heart-felt, yet so genius.

Super Reviewer

August 26, 2008
A contemporary classic of unflinching whistles just like the forest of transformations in the second half of the film. Apichatpong curiously observes the inhabitants of his tale but without intervening in their timid reactions and for what it's worth, an oh-so-dear flirt between the men of our story. Shamanic myths and the jungle's hedonistic junction, Tropical Malady captures an almost religious howl and defies the cinematic rules like so many films did before it, only it gets more visible in recent years.
May 17, 2011
Sud Pralad (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)

Cahiers du Cinèma, one of the most respected film journals in the world, named Sud Pralad (literally Strange Beast, though released in the west as Tropical Malady) the best movie of 2004. I'm not so sure about that; 2004 was one of the strongest years for movies in quite a while. Spain gave us El Maquinista, Korea Sigaw, Thailand Shutter, Japan Ika Resuraa (okay, I just threw that one in to see if you were paying attention, but it's a darned good time) and Vital, Italy The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, Argentina The Motorcycle Diaries, Norway Nor Noise, Denmark The Green Butchers, England Shaun of the Dead, Germany Der Untergang (the movie pretty much everyone else said was the best of 2004), and I could keep going on all day. Even on Cahiers' home turf, we had Saint Ange, the first film from a young director named Pascal Laugier, who is quickly becoming the best of his generation. But if you're going to go for the willfully obscure, you could do a lot worse than to seek out Apichatpong Weerasethakul, an American-educated Thai filmmaker whose work is well-informed by the Surrealist movement of the thirties and the folktales of his home country. Of course, I'm writing this in 2011, and Weerasethakul is no longer a director about whom most people's knowledge doesn't even stretch as far as how to pronounce his name; Uncle Boonmee Who Can See His Past Lives, Weerasthakul's sixth feature, has been tearing up festivals, including winning the Palme d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Maybe he'll finally start getting the recognition he deserves. He should have a decade ago; The Mysterious Object at Noon, his first feature, is a jaw-dropping experience in folklore, the nature of documentary, and the kind of gorgeous cinematography that has pervaded his films ever since. (Uncle Boonmee won for Best Cinematgraphy at Dubai, by the way.) But back in 2004, no one knew who this guy was, and so Sud Pralad, like The Mysterious Object at Noon before it, was sadly neglected, and still is. You should rectify this, though this is not Weerasthakul's best work.

It starts off as a romance (if you passed over this when it popped up on Sundance because they labeled it a comedy, by the way, you can ignore that entirely) between Keng (Banlop Lonmoi in his only feature to date), a disaffected soldier, and Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee, who has appeared in every feature Weerasthakul has made since this; in fact, he reprises his role as Tong in Uncle Boonmee), a young man from Keng's home village. The two of them are hesitant, and there's some difficulty since Keng is a naturally reticent type of guy, but romance blossoms. (There's a great, great scene in a cinema about halfway through the first part, the first scene in the film when we really get a sense that Keng is allowing himself to feel, that is in itself worth the price of admission.)

Halfway through the film, we find ourselves back in Weerasethakul's obsession with Thai folktales, as Tong's role is recast. Keng is still a soldier, but he is now attached to a jungle regiment on the lookout for a supernatural beast, a shaman who can take the form of a tiger. It's been abducting local wildlife and the odd farm animal here and there, presumably for food, throughout the first half of the film, but when it starts taking villagers, it's time for the army to act. We know the story has fundamentally changed, and that this is a beast, not a human, but Weerasethakul still gives us Tong. It's not exactly subtle, is it?

Not that it matters. The plot in a Weerasthakul film is always a secondary consideration; remember that he started out as a documentary, or at least a pseudo-documentary, filmmaker. He's more interested in the subjects he's exploring, be they people or folktales (and, like Errol Morris, he is also interested, maybe even more, in how the audience will react to them). He presents them beautifully, as is his wont, and through the wordlessness of the second half, which is presented with title cards, he draws our attention to the sounds of the forest, which are just slightly off, in keeping with the theme of the film's second half. That's the kind of attention to detail one should expect from a Weerasethakul film, and he delivers in spades.

On the other side of the coin, the film does have its weaknesses. Most notably is the transition between the first and second halves of the film, which is jarring in the extreme, and is the number one complaint about it both in the reviews I've read and on discussion boards. I do understand why Weerasethakul chose such a jarring segue, and it does make sense, but I wonder how much of the feeling of transition would have been lost had the two halves of the story been joined more smoothly. I've already mentioned the film's only other major flaw, which is its odd heavy-handedness, but that's minor in the bigger scheme of things.

If you're just discovering Weerasthakul, you have a wonderful journey in store. Start with The Mysterious Object at Noon and come to this one a little afterwards. ****
July 4, 2012
This film is really difficult to judge. It's so slow and difficult to watch, and it's not that it's even rewarding when you're all said and done with it. But there are such moments of pure brilliance alongside some of the most gorgeous cinematography I've ever seen, especially in the second half. How do you approach this? It's tough; it's not my thing; it's really good; it's unique.
January 2, 2010
In a word (read out loud with Cartman's voice): gay.

Why oh why any one ever thought the viewers may be interested by his erotic adventures in caves covered in bat shit?
September 16, 2008
Never seen anything quite like this. a slow, lyrical exploration of the love that blossoms between an errant soldier and a village boy - until the script is flipped, and the same story is replayed in a myth-heavy metaphorical mode. the realism of the literal love story gives way to a stunning primal jungle encounter between man and (possibly supernatural) beast. there are images in this film that i'm sure i will never forget.
March 19, 2014
Weerasethakul continues his status as probably the most enigmatic filmmaker in the world. His movies are frustrating, beautiful, experimental, and a about a million other different words. Tropical Malady is basically a movie in two parts. The first part is a fairly straightforward love story between two men, and the second part puts the same two actors into different roles as a soldier lost in the woods hunting for a shape shifting wild man. I totally understand why this movie was booed on it's initial release, but I also see why it's come to a higher understanding in recent years. I wouldn't recommend this to most people because it can be incredibly slow paced at times and it's borderline pretentious, but it never jumps into ridiculous art house cliches and maintains a subtle fantasy/dreamscape throughout. Fans of the directors other work should check it out!
January 6, 2014
A dreamily disjointed film that goes from the homosexual courtship of a young country boy by a young male soldier to the tale of the hunting down of a shape shifting ghost. It is this inconsistency that gives this Thai film its chief appeal, making it feel like a lucid dream, defying conventions and being fearlessly mystifying to the point where it may test the patience of some viewers, but on the other hand seem rewarding to anyone willing to follow its elusiveness.
January 5, 2013
effective and affecting film-making . the second half plunges the first into a provocative posthumanist resonance. It's a wonderfully made and performed hinged narrative; genuinely suspenseful and beguiling.
P D.
June 16, 2011
For those craving an experimental film experience, Tropical Malady will placate the most rabid Hollywood hater with its lack of plot, explosions or superficial characters. Sprinkled glimpses of coherence are interspersed with jungle foliage that finally falls off the rocker as characters emerge into a folkloric allegory including body paint. Like a bus with flat tires driven by a monkey, it's long and slow and you won't know where its going. If you're looking for stunning imagery with no plot, I'd recommend Baraka instead, and for the folkloric allegory crowd(all three of you), check out the more meaningful Ten Canoes.
May 25, 2011
A meditative, slow and beautiful film. Not as good as Blissfully Yours, but very much a worthwhile watch.
January 9, 2011
My favorite by Apichatpong so far.
November 19, 2010
It's not just a film. It's a transcendental, breathtaking and magical experience; cinema for your senses.
September 21, 2010
The exclusive cast includes the crickets, rattling leaves, barking dogs, footsteps in the woods. A work of art. A definition of humans. A supernatural masterpiece.
jennifer's picks & pa
February 6, 2010
A disappointing first experience with acclaimed director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Tropical Malady (2005) - 4.1/10
Director - Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Cast - Banlop Lomnoi, Sakda Kaewbuadee, Sirivech Jareonchon, Udom Promma

Over the past several weeks I've been watching many of the acclaimed foreign films of the previous decade. I've scoured numerous "Best of the Decade" lists trying to find interesting films I may have missed the first go around, and one director whose name kept coming up on these lists was Apichatpong Weerasethakul. I picked "Tropical Malady" because it was one of several mentioned and the only one available.

"Tropical Malady" starts with a group of soldiers who discover a corpse in a forest clearing. Soon we move to the burgeoning relationship between a soldier Keng (Banlop Lomnoi) and a shy country boy Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee). Midway through the film takes an abrupt mythical turn where Keng tracks a tiger in the jungle.

This film was disappointing on many levels. The first half of the story wasn't particularly original or even engaging. It had a few nice moments but overall I felt detached from Keng and Tong. Then Weerasethakul makes an abrupt turn midway through. In fact it could very well be two short films merged together with only a thin symbolic link. The second half is actually more interesting and ambitious but unfortunately Weerasethakul had pretty much lost me at that point. I will probably lower my expectations for the next Apichatpong Weerasethakul film I see.

Super Reviewer

October 6, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]The first half of "Tropical Malady" is about the romance between Keng(Banlop Lomnoi), a former soldier and forest ranger who is now unemployed and another man, Tong(Sakda Kaewbuadee). The second half consists of a soldier(possibly also Keng) hunting a tiger.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]This paradigm shift is similar to the device that David Lynch used in "Lost Highway" and "Mulholland Drive" but with limited success.(It does not really help these movies because it is the equivalent to pulling the carpet out from under the viewer.) And in "Tropical Malady", it has a similar disorienting effect. Maybe if I knew more about Thailand, then I possibly would have liked the movie more.[/font]
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