A violent thriller from prolific Thai maestro Pen-Ek Ratanaruang about the drastic steps taken by a soap opera actress desperate to be rid of her rich cult-member husband.
Deliciously twisty and deadpan eccentric, Samui Song is the sort of offbeat marvel only Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Last Life in the Universe) could create. The latest from the prolific Thai maestro and Festival favourite fuses crime-movie tropes, sly social commentary, and richly developed characters, resulting in a one-of-a-kind thriller.
Viyada (Chermarn Boonyasak) is a lovely young actor longing to break out of Thailand's soap-opera ghetto — and to break away from her husband, Jerome (French director Stéphane Sednaoui), a wealthy foreigner who has become brainwashed by a charismatic cult leader (Vithaya Pansringarm of Only God Forgives). A chance encounter in a hospital parkade brings together Viyada and Guy (David Asavanond), a mysterious man with a sick mother. Sensing an opportunity to earn a major windfall, Guy offers to help rid Viyada of Jerome — but the cost may prove far greater than either anticipates.
Violence begets violence and bodies have a nasty way of piling up in Samui Song. Yet Pen-ek has a flair for tempering all that blood and menace with pitch-black comedy: watch for the brilliant scene in which a massive phallus gets repurposed as a murder weapon. With Boonyasak's desperate thespian at its centre, Samui Song becomes seductively self-reflexive. This is ultimately a story about the roles we seek and, most challenging of all, the roles that are thrust upon us.