90 minutes. Rating: 18+. Director: Kongkiat Khomsiri. Starring: Somchai Kemglad, Krissana Sukosol Clapp, Pongpat Wachirabunjong
Sunday 24 June 2012, 02:48PM
Getting two-for-one can be a positive in most situations. In Antapan however, it becomes a burden.
And it’s a shame, because by electing to combine what could have been presented as two isolated stories, the film’s creators have blunted what is otherwise a very progressive piece of Thai cinema.
Clearly taking its cue from the Hollywood gangster movies of the 90s (Goodfellas references abound), Antapan shifts the setting to late 1950s Bangkok – complete with an Elvis soundtrack and James Dean inspired costume design – observing two generations of mafiosos and the changing face of the city’s gangster culture.
Despite offering their own unique strengths and styles, the separate acts dealing with each generation feel like completely different films - the first more concerned with the visual setting, while the second focused on depth of character and plot progression.
It’s impossible not to feel that the film would have benefited by a more in-depth look at one of the stories, rather than trying to cram in both.
But even in its current form, Antapan takes too long to find its focus. As the first act goes about building the world of ’50s Bangkok, the script is overly convoluted, falling on the simplistic formula of random scenes of violence interwoven with moments of overt sentimentality between a seemingly endless array of characters.
Consequently, the pacing feels very off in these opening stages; major events pass by with little consequence, while inconsequential scenes drag out without adding any new dimensions to the plot.
The film is based on a true story, and it’s interspliced with witness testimonials throughout the film. They’re not really as cohesive as they need to be to maximise their impact, but they do lend a certain authenticity to the film.
In the end, Antapan is a film that could have done with half of it being left in the editing room, or at the very least some more direction in its opening act.
As it stands, it’s still a very enjoyable take on the gangster genre, but the true thrills come from the unique setting and great soundtrack rather than any creative leaps in storytelling.