- Written and Directed by Aditya Assarat
Wonderful Town has nothing to do with the 1953 Broadway musical of the same name, although a few songs would liven it up.
This Thai drama allegedly examines the long-term psychological aftereffects of a devastating natural disaster. According to the press release, the town of Takua Pa, where the movie is set, “is the real town where the 2004 tsunami hit the hardest and 8,000 people were lost.” Although the town has been largely rebuilt physically, writer/director Aditya Assarat reports that “the people are still walking around in a daze, like they just woke up and can’t find their way home.”
Unfortunately, Assarat doesn’t find a way to make an interesting film about people walking around in a daze. Somnambulant in pacing, Wonderful Town fails to be either interesting and insightful.
And the most dazed, dull, and spiritually dead character in the film isn’t even from the town. It’s the film’s protagonist, a young architect (Supphasit Kansen) who comes to Takua Pa on a job rebuilding a luxury hotel. The story shows him working, driving around, and even falling in love, but he never seems to react much to anything.
The love story, such as it is, is the center of the movie. The architect checks into a low-cost hotel, and falls in love with the woman running the place (Anchalee Saisoontorn). She’s moderately charming, which is more than you can say for her leading man. As the local young woman falls in love with the young man from the big city, people talk–not exactly an original plot.
There’s some nice nature photography. Visually, at least, Takua Pa apparently is a wonderful town. But you could set this picture in Mendocino and it would still be a lousy movie.
Wonderful Town screened at the 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival.