Ploy (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Ploy (2008)

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Critic Reviews for Ploy

All Critics (1) | Top Critics (1)

Jealousy erupts quickly but steamy sex and dull narrative move at a glacial pace in Thai somnambulistic meller Ploy.

Full Review… | May 23, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Ploy

½

[size=3]“Ploy” should have been in competition at Cannes this year. Much like Wong Kar Wai’s “My Blueberry Nights”, it focuses on the decay in relationships and the inability to cope with loneliness. Perhaps these Asian filmmakers need a little more Dr. Phil in their lives. Pen-ek Ratanaruang may not have the name recognition as Wong, but he has one upped the critical darling. Ratanaruang captures a marriage that looks more sterile than inviting. Moving at a dreamy, meticulous pace, “Ploy” documents a relationship crossroads that never seems to end. Wit (Pornwut Sarasin) and his wife Dang (Lalita Panyopas) return to Thailand for a funeral after a decade living in the United States. Jet-lagged, Wit goes to the airport hotel bar while his wife sleeps. Also in the bar is carefree 19-year-old Ploy (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk). Wit invites the girl up to his room to nap, much to the dismay of Dang. The couple argues over the girl before each decides to sleep. Ratanaruang then toys with the audience by cutting to the dreams of each character without warning. Ploy dreams of an erotic encounter between the hotel maid and bartender. Wit and Dang come across dreams revealing their most extreme jealousies and fears. Dang imagines smothering Ploy with a pillow while her husband snoozes in the next room. Wit envisions his wife being raped in a warehouse that resembles some type of gothic fortress. Despite the repetitive and extreme nature of these dream sequences, I was surprised to learn each event was not real. Ratanaruang delivers the ultimate mind fuck to the audience in an ending musical sequence I will not reveal. “Ploy” provides more questions than answers, but what may be unsatisfying for some, remains in my consciousness long after my initial viewing. The narrative technique in this film is minimal to say the least. The film begins with the flight to Thailand. The couple is holding hands, but for some reason, they seem aloof. There is no dialogue at least 15 minutes into the film. A lack of conversation calls immediate attention to their barren relationship. Each shot seems so spotlessly clean that if feels as is the movie is filmed inside a doctor’s office. There are very few cuts. Ratanaruang would make Gus Van Sant, another methodical director, look like Tony Scott. With characters moving in and out of our focal point, the cinematographer seems unconcerned with conventional framing. Instead, the camera often focuses on ordinary objects, such as a cigarette or cup of coffee. The characters are so trapped by their relationship that they are as monotonous as these every-day objects. This technique tested the patience of the audience. A handful of people left early into the screening. I, however, was in constant anticipation of what could happen next. By revealing so little in the beginning, Ratanaruang enhances the tension for the later stages of the movie. In the defining moment of the film, Ploy asks Wit if love has an expiration date. Wit is unable to answer the question. So are many directors with films screening at Cannes this year. From Wong’s “My Blueberry Nights” to Bela Tarr’s “The Man from London”, multiple films explore the demise of relationships and the subsequent detachment from reality. Maybe it’s a changing of the guard in the cinematic landscape, at least abroad. During “Ploy”, my mind kept drifting to the works of Antonioni, who was well known for characters trapped by their thoughts. Why are we so infatuated with this cerebral chess game? I think it is because it is so difficult to explain. Perhaps filmmakers think it will start a dialogue on feelings rarely discussed. More so, is calls attention to the universality of our problems. Sometimes our feelings lie so dormant it requires a film to reach out and yank us out of our collective funk. Perhaps, I’m overestimating the power of cinema, but maybe those with relationships on life support can take something out of this movie and somehow better their own life. “Ploy” demonstrates why it is sometimes better to show the audience rather than tell them. In fact, it revels in its most ambiguous moments. I am still unable to ascertain where reality begins and ends in this film. I would love to pick Ratanaruang’s brain, but the film might lose some of its staying power. As Roger Ebert once said, it’s not what a film says but how it says it. There have been films aplenty about lifeless marriages. Yet, “Ploy” defies the melodramatic epiphany ever present in these films. In a cinematic era where every last detail must be explained, it was refreshing to see a film that trusted the intelligence of the audience. It’s okay to leave a screening with questions. The best films are often times those which require multiple viewings. I am already anticipating a reexamination of “Ploy”. Sadly, I doubt this eccentric film will receive distribution in the States. I don’t see 18-year-old boys racing out to the theater to watch a poetic dissection of a fragile relationship. But then again, there are boobies. Maybe that should be the tagline for the film. Then it might have a shot at distribution. Cast & Credits Written and directed by Pen-ek Ratanaruang Dang: Lalita Panyopas Wit: Pornwut Sarasin Nut: Ananda Everingham Ploy: Apinya Sakuljaroensuk Tum: Phorntip Papanai Moo: Thakaskorn Pradabpongsa Presented by Fortissimo Films in association with Five Star and Film Factory No MPAA rating, 95 minutes.[/size]

Brian Hughes
Brian Hughes

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