Definitions

Love of Siam

The Love of Siam

The Love of Siam (รักแห่งสยาม, or Rák Hàeng Sà-yăam ; RTGS: Rak haeng Sayam) is a 2007 Thai romantic-drama film, written and directed by Chookiat Sakveerakul. A multi-layered family drama, a controversial element of the story is a gay romance between two teenage boys.

Plot

Mew, a stubborn kid, is neighbor to Tong, an energetic boy who lives with his parents and sister. After accidentally spitting gum into Mew's hair, Tong wanted to befriend Mew but was unsuccessful. At school, Mew was cornered by several other students was harassed until Tong stepped in to defend him. Tong was injured and apoligized to Mew for the chewing gum incident. Mew was grateful for Tong stepping in and responded that they were even. The two became good friends from that point on.

Mew plays on his grandpa's piano and is joined by his grandma, who begins to play a song. Mew asks his grandma why she liked that song and his grandma responded with telling Mew that it was played for her by his grandpa. It was a way for him to express his love to her and explains that one day, Mew will be able to do the same for the person he loved.

Tong's family goes to Chiangmai and returns without Tong's sister Tang since she wanted to stay with her friends a couple days more. Tong bought Mew a present and decided to give it to Mew piece by piece in a game of Treasure Hunt. One by one, Mew found all of the pieces except for the last one which was hidden in a tree. The tree was cut down before Mew was able to retrieve it leaving the present Tong bought for Mew incomplete. Tong was disappointed at their misfortune, but Mew remained grateful for Tong's efforts. Tang called her parent's and told them that she would extend her stay at Chiangmai until the 24th of December. Tong looks at his calendar and realizes that Tang will not be able to attend the Christmas play he would participate in.

After the Christmas play, Tong receives a phone call from his parents telling him to stay with Mew and his grandma. After spending the night at Mew's house, Tong awakens to the sight of his parents along with Mew and his grandma. Tong is told that his parents are going to Chiangmai a couple days to look for Tang. Tong lives in depression until his parents come back, only to find out that Tang may be lost. Tong is devastated and cries in front of Mew, who is trying to comfort his friend.

Months have passed and Tong's family decides to move. On the day of the move, Tong finds Mew sitting on a ledge overlooking a pier. Tong says his final words and departs in a car. Tong looks back only to find Mew walking towards the car before coming to a stop and crying for losing his best friend.

The boys are reunited during their senior year of high school at Siam Square. The musically talented Mew is the leader of a boy band called August. Tong has a pretty girlfriend, Donut. The meeting stirs up old feelings that Mew has harbored since boyhood, his love for Tong.

Mew's band, meanwhile, has a new manager, June. She looks just like Tong's long-lost sister, Tang. After meeting June, Tong and his mother, Sunee, devise to a plan to pay June to pretend she is Tang, in hopes that it will pull Tong's father out of his alcoholic depression. Tang borrows a story from the Thai film Ruk Jung, saying she has amnesia, which is why she has forgotten how to say her family's Catholic grace at the dinner table.

Mew is also the object of an unrequited crush of a neighbor girl, Ying. But Mew has strong feelings for Tong, which have inspired him to write new songs.

The boys share a prolonged kiss in Tong's backyard one night after a party in honor of the return of Tang. Tong also spends the night with Mew, which causes his mother to worry.

At Christmas time, as Tong and his mother are decorating a Christmas tree, they have a heart-to-heart talk about making choices, and Tong asks his mother to let him make his own choices.

Tong then goes to Siam Square for a date with Donut. Mew's band is playing nearby, so Tong abandons Donut and tells her he cannot be with her. He then rushes to see Mew play and is guided there by Ying, who has accepted the fact that Mew loves Tong. After the performance, Tong gives Mew a gift, a missing nose from a wooden doll that Tong gave him when they were children. However, Tong tells Mew he can't be his boyfriend but that doesn't mean he doesn't love Mew.

Cast

Reception

Marketing controversy, audience response

Marketed as a typical teen romance between boys and girls, the gay aspect of the love story was controversial.

Thai-language web boards were posted with messages of support, as well as accusations by moviegoers that they were misled into watching "a gay movie."

Director Chookiat Sakveerakul admitted the film was marketed on the film posters and in the film's previews as a straight romance because he wanted it to reach a wider audience.

"The movie is not all about gay characters, we are not focusing on gay issues, we are not saying, 'let's come out of the closet, so obviously, we don't want the movie to have a 'gay' label," he said in an interview.

But the director confirmed the mixed reaction of audiences. "I went incognito to a movie theater and observed the audience. I didn't expect such a strong reaction. Maybe I was just too optimistic that homophobia in Thai society had subsided."

Box-office performance

The Love of Siam was released in Thai cinemas on November 22, 2007, opening on 146 screens. It was the No. 1 film at the Thai box office that weekend, topping the previous No. 1 film, Beowulf. It slipped to No. 2 the following weekend, unseated by the comedy film, Ponglang Amazing Theater. In the third week of release, it had dropped to No. 5, with to-date box office takings of US$1,198,637. It has grossed a total of US$1,305,125 to date.

The film was officially released in Taiwan on September 19, 2008. It was reached No. 12 at the Taiwan box office in opening week.

Critical response

The Love of Siam was received with critical acclaim upon its release.

Bangkok Post film critic Kong Rithdee called the film "groundbreaking", in terms of being the first Thai film "to discuss teenagers' sexuality with frankness". He praised the mature, realistic family drama aspects of the film, as well as the solid performances, particularly by Sinjai Plengpanich as the mother Sunee.

Another Bangkok Post commentator, Nattakorn Devakula, said the film contained important lessons for Thai society. "The point that the film attempts to teach viewers – and a largely conservative Thai society – is that love is an evolved form of emotional attachment that transcends sexual attraction of the physical form.

A reviewer for The Nation called the film "brilliantly conceived".

A few critics found fault with the film, among them Gregoire Glachant of BK magazine, who commented that "The Love of Siam isn't a very well shot movie. Chookiat's camera only records his dull play with equally dull angles and light as it wanders from homes to schools, to recording studio, and to Siam Square without sense of purpose or directions.

Awards

The Love of Siam dominated Thailand's 2007 film awards season, winning the Best Picture category in all major national film award events, including the Thailand National Film Association Awards, Starpics Magazine's Starpics Awards, the Bangkok Critics Assembly Awards, Star Entertainment Awards, and Kom Chad Luek Newspaper's Kom Chad Luek Awards. Awards won by the film include the following:

Starpics Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Chookiat Sakveerakul)
  • Best Actor (Mario Maurer)
  • Best Actress (Sinjai Plengpanich)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Songsit Rungnopakunsri)
  • Best Screenplay (Chookiat Sakveerakul)
  • Best Cinematography (Chitti Urnorakankij)
  • Best Original Score (Kitti Kuremanee)
  • Popular Film.

Kom Chad Luek Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actress (Sinjai Plengpanich)

Thailand National Film Association Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Chookiat Sakveerakul)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Chermarn Boonyasak)

Bangkok Critics Assembly Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Chookiat Sakveerakul)
  • Best Actress (Sinjai Plengpanich)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Chermarn Boonyasak)
  • Best Screenplay (Chookiat Sakveerakul)
  • Best Original Score (Kitti Kuremanee)

Star Entertainment Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Chookiat Sakveerakul)
  • Best Actress (Sinjai Plengpanich)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Chermarn Boonyasak)
  • Best Screenplay (Chookiat Sakveerakul)
  • Best Original Song

The film was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Mario Maurer) and Best Composer (Kitti Kuremanee) categories in the Asian Film Awards at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, but did not win.

Production

The film was first shot on December 26, 2006, taking advantage of the Christmas lights and decorations of Siam Square and the surrounding area.

The Love of Siam is unusual among Thai films in many respects. First, at 150 minutes, the film is markedly longer than most other Thai films, and second it is a drama film, which is rare in the Thai industry, which mainly produces horror, comedy, action and (heterosexual) teen romance films.

Director Chookiat Sakveerakul said he felt the longer running time was needed to more fully develop all the characters and the story. He received full backing for this decision from producer Prachya Pinkaew and the production company, Sahamongkol Film International.

"They liked the first cut, which was even longer, so I didn't need to convince them that much. I feel that every minute of the movie is important, and I'm glad the audience will be able to see it in full," Chookiat said in an interview before the film's release.

A nearly three-hour "director's cut" was released in January, 2008 exclusively at the House RCA cinema. It is booked for two sold-out shows a day through the end of February, 2008 with the possibility of an extended run.

The film was a departure for Chookiat, who had previously directed the horror film, Pisaj and the psychological thriller, 13 Beloved.

The gay romance was also unusual, in that it involved two "straight acting" boys. In most Thai films with gay characters, gay men are coarsely depicted as transgenders or transvestites with exaggerated effeminacy.

The young actors portraying Mew and Tong both had difficulties with the kissing scene.

Witwisit Hiranyawongkul, who portrays Mew, accepted the role because it was challenging and because he was interested in working with the director, who was a senior classmate at Montfort College in Chiang Mai.

Mario Maurer, of Chinese-German descent, portrayed Tong, and was "nervous". "I've never kissed a man and kissing is not something you do every day," he said in an interview. "My father said it was just a job and not to think about it too much."

Soundtrack

An original soundtrack album was released on November 12, 2007, ahead of the film's release. The two-disc package features a CD with music tracks by Chookiat Sakveerakul, Witwisit Hiranyawongkul, the August band, Passakorn Wiroonsup and Flure, and a VCD. The album proved popular, and had sold out of many shops in the weeks after its release.

Tagline: "Just ask yourself who you think of when you are listening to love song."

Track listing

Disc 1 (CD)

  1. "Gun lae gun" ("กันและกัน") – performed by Suweera Boonrod (Flure) – 4:34
  2. "Ticket (Day Trip)" – performed by Chookiat Sakveerakul & August Band – 3:34
  3. "Roo suek barng mhai" ("รู้สึกบ้างไหม") (Live) – performed by Witwisit Hiranyawongkul – 4:16
  4. "Pieng ter" ("เพียงเธอ") – performed by Witwisit Hiranyawongkul – 4:12
  5. "Gun lae gun" ("กันและกัน") (Acoustic version) – performed by Chookiat Sakveerakul – 6:20
  6. "Kuen aun pen niran" ("คืนอันเป็นนิรันดร์") – performed by Passakorn Wiroonsup – 3:07
  7. "Gun lae gun" ("กันและกัน") (Live) – performed by Witwisit Hiranyawongkul – 6:02
  8. "Roo suek barng mhai" ("รู้สึกบ้างไหม ") (Original Mix) – performed by Witwisit Hiranyawongkul – 5:00
  9. "Pieng ter" ("เพียงเธอ") (Demo) – performed by Chookiat Sakveerakul – 4:23
  10. "Ticket (Night Trip)" (Bonus Track) – Instrumental – 3:50

Disc 2 (VCD)

  1. The Love of Siam trailer
  2. "Gun lae gun" music video
  3. Introducing the August band
  4. "Gun lae gun" behind-the-scenes music video

DVD release

The standard DVD for The Love of Siam was released on February 19, 2008 and is available widescreen, and a Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround track in adition a commentary by director. The DVD included music videos, trailer, pictures from the film.

The three-disc director's cut DVD was released in three disc on April 9, 2008. Disc 1 and 2 are 178 minutes director's cut of the film. Disc 3 includes a trailer, a film documentary, Deleted Scenes, Making of the film, Character Introduction ,a live concert and interviewing of Songwriter.

In addition, An audio CD, a wooden doll, postcards, the letter and a note of "Gun lae gun" are featured in a limited DVD Boxset.

References

External links

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