SFF 2018: Review – Samui Song
Noir is a well worn path so there needs to be something new added to make the story engaging. We get this by shifting the setting to a very shadowy Thailand. If you’ve ever wondered what popular tourist destinations are like beneath their touristy facade then Samui Song will be a film of interest. Director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang manages to find some shadows amongst all the bright tropical light of the popular holiday setting.
A woman in an unhappy marriage meets another man while smoking in a car park. They bond and try to work out what they can do about her problematic marriage. Sounds very noir-esque already and betrayal, crime, love triangles, hidden agendas, revenge and moral dilemmas plot twist their way to all make an appearance.
Containing one of those, wait – did that just happen, type of scenes, it makes you wish you hadn’t.
Ratanaruang’s filmography contains contemplative pacing, films mixed with bouts of violence and action. This also helpfully sums up this film. Explosions of violence mixes up the tense tone of the film. Threats of violence are just as effective.
What will determine if you are won over by this film will be its Samui setting. So important to the film that the location gives the film its name. The setting sets up all that’s fresh about this ultimately genre film.
As with other noir films, the action doesn’t exactly hurtle along, and the plot gets complicated. Longed for romances – will they get a happy ending?
Samui Song screens at Sydney Film Festival on Wednesday June 13 and Saturday June 16.