The last time I wrote about the films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, I suggested that his films constituted a challenge to the critic. A reminder, if you will, that as cinematic expression evolves, so too must the tools of the critic. Indeed, most of the critical reaction to the Thai-film-maker’s work has tended to emphasise either the biographical (Weerasethakul is gay and his parents are doctors, facts that have clearly inspired his film-making) or a form of woolly mysticism that attempts to alight upon his films with the same softness and the aloofness that Weerasethakul uses in examining different topics in his films. In other words, Weerasehakul is not a forensic film-maker and so it is okay to speak of his films in non-forensic terms. For my part, the jury is still out on this approach. Especially when you consider that Weerasethakul’s earlier films seem to be quite accessible to standard critical readings.
Indeed, Blissfully Yours (Sud Sanaeha) could easily have been made by a European art house director. It is, after all, a fairly straightforward exploration of the temptation to ignore one’s problems in order to take pleasure in the present. While the film does share many of the images that Weerasethakul would deploy so forcefully in films like Syndromes and a Century and Tropical Malady, it is also a much darker film. A film that seems strangely at odds with the warm-hearted mysticism of Weerasethakul’s later films and the critical reaction to them.