Tropical Malady - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Tropical Malady Reviews

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April 2, 2017
Apichatpong submerges in the hypnotic nature of the mundane so we can fully appreciate and feel the transcendental.

The awkwardly tender love story between a soldier and a farmer in the Thai tropical rainforest we see for the first hour is then re-contextualized as a mystical exploration of love and desire as animal instincts. His style is subdued but still pretty much present, emphasizing only in the ethereal sense of atmosphere and light surrealism, and letting the emotional core guide us through this deeply enthralling spiritual experience.
½ February 5, 2017
The film is a fascinating enigma of the mind and the human heart that leaves one both euphoric and reflective, whether you choose to see its narrative as fractured or beautifully original.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2016
Even with an absorbing atmosphere and a powerful sound design, this strange film is like two different unrelated stories sloppily combined and loosely bound together, allowing of several different interpretations and coming off as frustratingly vague and empty in its essence.
½ July 24, 2016
Unusual film by an unusual filmmaker is a bit rambling.
½ May 1, 2016
Deliberately staged and shot, Tropical Malady does amazing things with its budget to tell a visual story. But there are enough missteps and clunky sequences to noticeably detract from its attempt at visual poetry. Still it's worth your while.
½ May 25, 2015
Fascinating and oddly touching experimental film that follows the story of desire and love between two Thai men. One of these men seems eager and fully embrace his sexuality while the other fights this desire out of fear. Apichatpong Weerasethakul's film then cleverly shits gears from realism to a culturally inspired twist into the surreal. It stands alone as one of the more interesting and potent International films to deal with the issue of societal pressure and dangers of being opening gay.
December 4, 2014
It's an experience that touches all senses with its vivid presentation of life and love.

It pushes you to explore not just what is hidden underneath the surface of Weerasethakul's world but also your own. It gives you the time and space to do so.
November 9, 2014
An experimental and avant-garde film, no doubt, but a beautiful, tender, and hypnotic work of poetry. The second half of this film is the most beautiful of nightmares while the first is a truly tender love story between two men. By film's end, I was raptured into it's hypnotic groove. Films like this are few and very far between.
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.
December 11, 2013
The film evolves into something deeper, a story about the atavistic wildness within people.
½ 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.
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2012
Experimentation has always existed; existentialism and myths unraveling undeniable realities in an always folkloric society intertwining in a Thai masterpiece of stillness and patient brilliance. Weerasethakul's scope is massive, controversial, provocative, touching sensitive fibers, challenging social protocols and supposed previously established morals in order to conceive a work of art which is a true example of one of cinema's most valuable forms: the one born straight out from an auteur's vision.

November 23, 2012
Difficult to watch and very slow-moving. Although admittedly quite raw and beautiful in many small parts.
July 13, 2012
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.
½ May 12, 2012
Meditative. Strange. Kind of cool but somehow not thrilling enough.
½ January 24, 2012
Excellent film. It is actually 2 stories involving the lead character. The stories are well told, with one exception. the two stories are separated, there are bits and pieces that are left out, that would have made the story more understandable.
It is a love story and a ghost story
The question is who is the beast and who is the human?
November 1, 2011
Beautiful film, interesting mythical layers to a love story paralleled with a story of a hunter in a forest.
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