“Ploy”

In my never-ending quest for movies that my friends have neither seen nor even heard of, but which have a subtle yet profound effect on me, I spent a recent evening pondering the complexities of ‘Ploy’ (2007). Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, whose ‘Last Life in the Universe’, starring Tadanobu Asano and featuring a cameo by Takashi Miike, is one of my favorite movies of the last ten years, ‘Ploy’ is about people whose calm exteriors belie a deep current of self-doubt and unhappiness. Wit and Dang are a middle-aged couple returning to Bangkok from America on the occasion of a family funeral. While recovering from a 20 hour flight, Wit sits at the hotel bar during the early hours of the morning, where he meets Ploy, a 19 year old girl who says she’s awaiting her mother’s arrival from Stockholm. Wit takes an interest in Ploy, even inviting her up to his room where he and his wife Dang are staying. What ensues is the slow yet dramatic unveiling of Wit and Dang’s discontent with their seven year marriage. Bedroom drama then mixes with dream sequences as Wit and Dang come to terms with their true feelings about themselves and each other. All the while, Ploy may not be as innocent as she first appears. When I first watched this film, quite frankly, I didn’t like it as much as I hoped. Curiously, this movie grew on me as I thought about it more and began to appreciate how the different layers of narrative and characterization fit together into a rather ingenious plot and sub-plot. Perhaps it’s just the intellectual in me talking, but this is one of those unusual movies that I liked more the more I talked and wrote about it. In the final analysis, whereas I thought I was going to give ‘Ploy” a mediocre review, I now find myself thinking that I may have to watch it again.

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