This meandering, melancholic Thai drama unsuccessfully channels Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation.
In an apparent fusion of Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation and Somewhere, Aditya Assarat’s Hi-So offers a meandering exploration of male melancholy and female longing in a story which charts the empty existence of handsome young film star Andana (Andana Everingham) and his dislocation from the two young loves of his life.
Assarat provides a brooding but monotonous look at alternative romance, presenting a narrative divided by a pair of unconventional yet undeniably tender, romantic encounters. Ananda’s initial long distance love Zoe (Cerise Leang) pays him much attention, but is largely ignored. Her frustrations are visualised in the empty frames she populates, imprisoned by her solitude in the confines of her hotel room.
Her lack of significance to Andana is reflected in her disappearance at the film’s halfway point to be inexplicably replaced by May (Sajee Apiwong) some months later, herself alienated by Andana’s party-boy lifestyle. The duel fates of these relationships are not mentioned in a frustrating comment on momentary, short-lived human connections and the frequent reality of unhappily ever after.
Displaying all the thematic hallmarks but lacking the visual fertility of a Wong Kar-wai film, Hi-So uses the tale of dysfunctional romance as a springboard into a wider exploration of alienation, disconnection and cultural dislocation.
Despite his evident success and popularity, Andana cuts a lonely figure, unable to express himself and trapped in a state of emotional and physical malaise. On set he plays the role of aww Tsunami victim and troubled amnesiac in the fictional Man With No Name – an enigmatic link to the film’s study of contemporary, problematic masculinity, personified by his character.
A lack of overt narrative action reflects the film’s intended consideration of the lethargy of modern man – set adrift, unable to make lasting connections, existing in a metaphorical limbo. While interesting in theory, this makes for a tiresome viewing experience which leaves you as fatigued and doleful as its weary protagonist.
Wonderful Town was Assarat's promising debut.
Lost In Translation without Bill Murray just isn’t as fun.