February / Yuthlert Sippapak

rating
4.0*/5.0*
Directed by
Yuthlert Sippapak
Produced in
2003

I really haven't seen enough Thai films yet, but somehow the ones I did see left quite an impression. Lots of bright green, blue and pink colors, shrill voices with lots of -aaaaai sounds and a not too serious approach of their subject matter. With that in mind, February came as a surprise, as it feels a lot more like an alternative Hong-Kong effort. Nothing bad about that though.

screen cap from February

Sometimes a few atmospheric screen caps and a nice poster are all that is needed to gain interest in a film. Such was the case with February. I didn't even bother to take a look at the short summary, I just went right ahead and watched it. Needless to say I was quite surprised when it dawned on me that most of the film takes place in New York. Hadn't seen that in a Thai film either.

In that sense, February can be compared to films like Collage Of Our Life and Blueberry Nights. These films take their characters to a big American city and give us a different view on the country. Luckily this doesn't affect the dialogue too much, as the male lead has a pretty flawless American accent, and the female lead has very little English dialogue.

But location is not all that connects this film to the later efforts of Kar-wai. Visually, there are quite a few parallels, especially when looking at the use of colors. Dark, warm overtones of green, red and orange dominate the film, giving it a very typical damp and hot atmosphere. Sippapak's approach is somewhat more modern though, which comes to play in the editing and the choice of music.

screen cap from February

The film uses some classical drama arrangements, but also several loungy, trip-hop like tracks. And in fact, February is in many ways a cinematic equivalent of the trip-hop genre. At its core, it's a drama film, but rougher around the edges. The core story is an interesting tale of love and loss, but set in a twilight world of art and crime. The visual look is stylish but modern and the music equally reflects this.

The acting is solid and the story actually quite interesting. The ending left me with contradicting feelings, as this would have been the perfect film for that bad ending you never wanted, but in the end I felt at peace with the ending. Which wasn't too hard, as the characters were solid enough to feel for.

February is the kind of film that doesn't really excel at anything, but also fails at nothing. Every aspect of the film is balanced and part of the whole. It's a nice drama with some timely accents, well acted and the film's a pleasure to look at. All in all a good reconnaissance with Sippapak, although a quick look at his other output suggests this is hardly a typical film for him.

definitely worth buying