Reviewed by Andrew Hamlin
Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s earlier films, like “Mon-Rak Transistor,” showed impressive flair and visual style even though their stories were mostly lighthearted with occasional hints at darker matters. In his more recent films, he’s amplified the darkness and his subject matter is often more violent. He meditates on the questionable nature of human consciousness.
The main character of “Headshot,” Tul, a hitman played by Nopporn Chaiyanam, suffers a gunshot wound to the head early in the film. It leaves him seeing everything upside-down.
This fanciful way of viewing the world is also intended thematically because Tul isn’t exactly sure how to find the ground in his own soul. Through an elaborate series of flashbacks, we see him playing many roles for many reasons. Some involve violence; others do not. Tul is very good at slipping into whatever persona an undercover assignment requires from him. But he is in danger of losing himself in all these shuffles.
Ratanaruang’s camera shows his country in endlessly rich, almost overripe colors, so long as the sun is out. When night falls, though, sinister shadows creep across the screen, with human figures almost melting in and out of view. Tul remains sympathetic throughout, and his struggle to find his life before losing it makes for plenty of fast-paced action. But the film remains, in the end, one soul’s struggle to find itself, before the upside-down lights go out for good. (end)
May 22 at 9 p.m., SIFF Cinema Uptown
May 27 at 4 p.m., AMC Pacific Place 11