Thursday, 9 September 2010


Prae is a widow who has consigned herself to wearing a funereal black silk dress since the death of her husband. Her relationship with boyfriend Thom is constantly strained by her refusal to live a life outside the house, but it takes a turn for the worse when Thom is involved in a carefully choreographed murder scheme with his boss Seni. Heavily in debt to his rival Wan, Seni assumes the identity of his recently deceased brother to start life afresh, only to learn that Wan is orchestrating the situation to his own advantage. The proceedings have serious ramifications for Prae who, avoiding the heartbreak of a second bereavement, leaves Thom in favour of religious sanctuary.

Though frequently acknowledged as Thailand’s first film noir (‘noir’ is a bit of a misnomer here as each scene is a rich tapestry of colour), Black Silk has more poignancy than the average thriller, contrasting the metropolitan with the traditional. Certain elements, such as Prae’s position as the widow fallen in with a bad lot, seem to anticipate Đng Nht Minh’s marvellous postwar When The Tenth Month Comes, a film that similarly entertains while retaining a sense of realism in its characters. Action in the film is subverted ironically by the inactivity of the camera – a double murder uses a maximum of three angles, with most of the event being caught in a single take. Full credit must go to Ratanavadi Ratanabhand, who brings to the role of Prae a quiet but persistant elegance.

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