Thursday, 24 December 2009


Employing something of an ‘exquisite corpse’ mode of production, Mysterious Object At Noon saw director Apichatpong Weerasethakul travel from town to town across Thailand, interviewing people along the way. He gives his first interviewee the freedom to make up an anecdote, and she begins telling a story about a disabled boy who notices something fall from his teacher’s skirt. The next interviewee is played back this recording and is invited to continue the story in preparation for the next person, and so forth. The story quickly becomes rather surreal, almost sci-fi, as we learn that the fallen object is in fact another boy, hell bent on destroying the teacher by ‘becoming’ her. Weerasethakul binds the story together by filming equally illusory fictional vignettes of the boy and his teacher.

As detached as it sounds, Mysterious Object At Noon is a surprisingly charming piece of work. The interviewees’ additions to the story are fairly arbitrary, maintaining a sense of mystery throughout. One of the most heart-warming moments of the film comes around halfway, when a large group of villagers is huddled around the tape recorder, each person bursting out excitedly with new parts of the story. The villagers then act it out as an impromptu play for the rest of the village. This unified imagination comes into play again as Weerasethakul visits a classroom. At heart, the film is a fascinating, considerate exploration of the Thai people, and how their hopes, dreams and superstitions colour the way they see the world.

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