Musical melodrama offers glimpse of Thai culture

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 3

Product:

Mon-Rak Transistor

OPENS JUNE 6, CERT 15, 115 MINS

This slice of Thai kitsch comes from the same producer as Tears Of The Black Tiger and shares something of the same anarchic exuberance. It’s a musical romance which makes much of the juxtaposition of tradition Thai culture with Western influences. The hero, Pan, is an amateur singer who strikes rock’n’roll poses while singing Thai folk music on a stage surrounded by chickens and goats. He falls in love with, and marries, beautiful local girl Sadaw. But their life is disrupted when Pan is drafted into the army, then goes AWOL to pursue his dream of becoming a professional singer.

This is unashamed melodrama but without the element of pastiche that was present in Tears Of The Black Tiger, and as such it’s rather harder for a Western audience to accept as anything other than a quaint novelty.

Still, the Thailand we see is vividly drawn and probably not the Thailand that’s familiar to tourists and travellers. It’s fascinating as a piece of Thai popular culture rather than as a piece of great cinema.