BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK (Dao Khanong)
by Anocha Suwichakornpong
Two women arrive at a secluded house surrounded by fields and mountains. The younger woman will direct a film about the older one, a writer who led the student movement in the 1970s. The director records their interviews to use as material for her script.
The women dine at a nearby cafe and have an awkward conversation with the girl who serves them. The director begins venturing out alone, and explores a nearby mushroom farm. In the forest, she encounters a glittery blue mushroom.
The director records an interview with herself.
A road leads to another farm, where workers are engaged in the elaborate process of curing tobacco leaves. One farmer gets done with work and leaves in his truck. En route to Bangkok, he's recognized as an actor. When he arrives home, he reads a new script for an indie film. Later, he lies in bed naked with a woman who traces his features. He plays a series of roles, including that of a singing fish. The actor runs into the woman with whom he was in bed. They ex- change small talk about their respective acting careers. She tells him she's taking time off from acting to direct her own film.
The first scene of the film recurs with new women who wear full makeup. The season has changed. The woman who was in bed with the actor is there.
The girl who waited on the director and writer is now in Bangkok, where she is working as a cleaner at the actor's gym. She goes from one job to another, never connecting with anyone. Eventually, she arrives at a temple, where she shaves her head, lives alone, and sweeps the grounds.
She enjoys disco dancing.
Country: Thailand, France, Netherlands, Qatar
Runtime: 105 mins
Assistant Director :
Director of Photography ：
MING KAI LEUNG
Production Designer :
Art Director :
RASSAMI PAOLUENGTONG PENPAK SIRIKUL
THONGDEELERT JAWAREE APINYA SAKULJAROENSUK
WAYWIREE ITTIANUNKUL NATDANAI WANGSIRIPAISARN
The movie is a swirl of startling, sensuously rendered transitions, identities sliding among characters, fictions cracking open to reveal still more fictions within. This film marks only Suwichakornpong’s second feature, but it already suggests a heady iconoclast snooping out profound points of exchange between the possibilities of narration through images and the politics of memory.
Suwichakornpong subtly uses fragmented images, identity slippage and ellipsis to dig for the core of contemporary Thai experience and ask profound questions about how memory, politics and cinema intersect. You’ll be lucky to find a more ambitious or enthralling work of cinema in this year’s festival
For its opening stretch, Suwichakornpong’s film uses familiar film-within-a-film tropes in what seems incongruously lyrical style, given the theme of state violence. But as it continues, with characters proliferating and levels of reality fragmenting wildly, the film’s own status as an intransigently enigmatic art object takes the upper hand. This film was one of the more bracingly unstable things on show this year.
The extradiegetic digital freak-out at film’s end foregrounds the constructedness of all images, but what’s still more remarkable is Suwichakornpong’s willingness to abdicate a certain kind of logic and directorial control in favor of a strangely intuitive, even random rethinking of narrative and historiography, taking up and discarding concepts and plot threads for which, even for the filmmaker, there may be no clear explanation.
As a humanistic portrait of ordinary people linked together by a turbulent history, By the Time It Gets Dark follows in the same path as the works of Thai directors Weerasethakul, Assarat, and Ratanaruang; but Suwichakornpong expands this idea to the fullest extent. Moving from country roads to expressways, and through photographs, films, and dreams, its many narratives converge into an Odyssean reflection on the effects of a single moment on the lives of many, even those who do not remember.
New Directors New Films, New York 2017
Locarno Film Festival 2016
Toronto International Film Festival 2016
Busan International Film Festival 2016
London Film Festival 2016
Vienna International Film Festival 2016
Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2016
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