2007 // Thailand // Aditya Assarat // November 18, 2008 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema)
Evincing more canny perception for the beauty and tragedy of life than Apichatpong Weerasethakul's mesmerizing but baffling creations, Aditya Assarat's touching, wrenching Wonderful Town is a tearful gem of a film. A young architect, Ton (Anchalee Saisoontorn) arrives in a Thai coastal village devastated by the 2004 tsunami. For the duration of a local project, he takes a room at a run-down hotel managed by a shy young woman, Na (Supphasit Kansen). In a manner wholly natural and wracked with authentic heartache, we watch as Ton and Na slowly fall in love. Assarat positively revels in the sheer process of a tentative romance, the ballad of looks, words, and gestures that thrill something deep within the human spirit. With empathic clarity, Wonderful Town conveys the mystery of stirrings that seem beyond elucidation. However, Assarat is not satisfied with a mere joyful anecdote, and the film admittedly teeters a bit when he begins to summon a breeze that foretells calamity. Some viewers will likely walk away disgusted with Wonderful Town's ultimately ruinous destination. I can only marvel that in the same film, Assarat is able to realize a film of such potent longing and such cold cruelty.