A portrayal of Thai ‘high-society’ hence also, this arty film’s name: Hi-So. The plot follows a young man who, much like most kids in Thai ‘posh’ society, grew up in Thailand but was educated in the west. The film, split in two halves, starts on his return to Thailand to shoot a film about the tsunami and follows his progress. Most of the film concentrates on the lead Ananda Everingham’s relationships, first with his girlfriend from America and then a Thai girl he meets on set. Interestingly both ‘halves’ follow a similar trajectory going from a relative high, where everything seems perfect, then slowly crumbling as reality sets in and the characters fall apart.
The issue Ananda keep finding, is that his life, his understandings and values, sit between two cultures and neither quite fit. This is something that was deeply personal as a subject matter to the Thai-American director Aditya Assarat as well as the main actor, Ananda Everingham. In the question session following the film, Aditya confessed that in the US he was always referred to as the ‘Thai person’, now in Bangkok he is the guy back from the US.
With both Aditya and Ananda coming from this ‘Hi-So’ Thai background and educated in the US, this ‘outsider’ complex is clearly the main focus of the film. Ironically I think this should have been the films greatest strength, but may in fact be its hindrance.
The subject being so utterly personal to the director, seems to have led the plot and taken precedence, resulting in a film that felt like a teenager’s therapy session. Perhaps this is what Aditya wanted- the film conveys the overwhelming sense of being an outsider brilliantly. Unfortunately that is pretty much it. The film has no real storyline outside of ‘detachment’, none of the characters are likeable enough for you care what happens to them, nor will any part of the 102 minute feature result in profound emotion.
The director, Aditya, jokes about the lack of storyline. No funny matter in my eyes but ok, let’s give it a bit of lenience, this is art after all… And arty it definitely is; very slow moving, with stunning shots and use of light throughout.
So as a piece of art, Hi-So is beautiful, deep and reticent. As a form of entertainment, however it just didn’t do the job. So much so that my companion for the evening asked me ‘how do you suggest I get the last two hours of my life back?’. Ouch. The favourite fact I walked away with – the dog was the most expensive actor in the whole cast.