Last Life In The Universe review

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Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang last showed here with the slapdash pop melodrama Mon-Rak Transistor. His new movie marks a startling switch in mood - and a huge leap in quality.

An existential black comedy with surrealist overtones, Last Life In The Universe is poised, funny, poignant, subtle and unpredictable. Hot young Japanese star Asano Tadanobu plays Kenji, a solitary, obsessive expatriate living in Bangkok. Intruding on his monastic life is, first, his raucous brother and then a winsome, beautiful Thai girl called Nid (Sinitta Boonyasak). But no sooner has Kenji registered Nid's attraction than he's robbed of her. Still, she has a sister, the sardonic Noi (Laila Boonyasak)...

Graced with elegant cinematography from DoP Christopher Doyle and a spare, elusive script from Thai novelist Prabda Yoon, Last Life plays teasing games with fantasy and reality. Thai cinema's been touted as the coming thing for a while now: this confirms it's arrived.

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