THAILAND 2011 Directed by: Chayanop Boonprakob Written by: Chayanob Boonprakob, Tossapol Tiptinnakorn Produced by: Jira Maligool, Chenchonnanee Sppnthonsaratul, Suwimol Techasupinan, Wanruedee Pongsittisak Cinematography by: Naruphol Chokkhanaphitak Music by: Genie Records Cast: Jirayu Laongmanee, Pachara Chirathivat, Thawat Pornrattanaprasert, Natcha Nualjam (Nattasha Morrison)
It doesn’t happen very often that a Thai comedy is more than a random potpourri of tasteless, one-hundred-year-old jokes and failed 1910’s/1920’s slapstick references, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see SUCKSEED succeed not only in the comedy department, but in many more ways.
SUCKSEED tells the story of two childhood friends from Chiang Mai, Koong and Ped, who both somehow fancy the same girl, their classmate Ern. Ern leaves for Bangkok after primary school, but a few years later their paths cross again and they accidentally reunite in high school after Ern returns to Chiang Mai in 2006.
To impress the girls (especially Ern) and to challenge his twin brother Kay, a star guitarist, Koong decides to form a band, Koong And Friends, assigning Ped to play bass and basketball player Ex as drummer. At first it all looks like just another one of Koong’s short-lived ideas, but after finding out that Ern is an ace guitarist herself and his brother is entering a nationwide music award with his band The Arena, Koong becomes dead serious about Koong And Friends.
Together they decide to enter the talent competition as well to leave their mark – this way or another. But the odds are against them and things turn for the worse when Koong’s and Ped’s battle over Ern intensifies and Ern switches sides and decides to perform with The Arena at the music awards. Friendship, love and musical success – all seems impossible the closer the competition comes.
SUCKSEED works as good as a comedy as it does as a drama, love story and film about music, thanks to a wonderful script, the perfect cast and an array of participating Thai bands and singers (thanks to Grammy’s stable of some of the best rock/pop bands in the country – a well-calculated cross-marketing measure for Grammy / GTH, but also admittedly a great benefit for the audience). So there’s something in for everyone and, amazingly, I found mostly older people watching the film in local cinemas than teenagers who supposedly are the core audience. That speaks for the quality and maturity of SUCKSEED as a film, and it also proves that it was a good idea to pull in some bands that were most popular a long while ago, like Blackhead.
Still, SUCKSEED is a genuinely charming and smart film that is much more a coming-of-age drama than just a loose collection of motifs and genre quotes: it is very convincing in various departments, yet it is also mostly original, featuring fantastic timing, pace and sense for subtleties, mastering noise and silence equally well, throwing in a lot of pretty creative ideas (like the imaginary appearance of bands whenever the characters lose themselves in the music), twists and intelligent dialogue without ever overshadowing the story or the characters.
One of the film’s biggest achievements is that it always feels natural and organic, no matter what (and no matter what flaws show here and there). I should especially mention that the direction and cinematography are unobtrusive, only taking centre stage when necessary (SUCKSEED features some hilarious and exceptionally creative sequences, first and foremost the stellar scene with Blackhead joining Ped at the market), but otherwise let the story and actors drive the film – something you don’t find too often in Thai cinema.
As for the cast I wouldn’t say that all of them are great actors (and how could they – most of them are newcomers), however, they are the ideal cast for their roles nevertheless and display great enthusiasm, talent and partly also versatility, all of which makes me look forward to their next projects. Here are some promising new actors at work that we will most probably see a lot more often in the future.
SUCKSEED, despite some of its goofy looking poster artwork, teenage ensemble and motifs that generally concern a younger audience manages to transcend its story and make it universally relevant for everybody – SUCKSEED turns out to be heartfelt, fresh and authentic, with far above-average IQ, humor and artistic craftsmanship, let alone a brilliant soundtrack that even those who are not familiar with Thai music will most certainly appreciate.
The film is as funny as it is fun to watch – maybe I am getting senile, but I consider SUCKSEED an accomplished work that I have enjoyed more than most Thai movies in recent years. SUCKSEED is the 2011 surprise hit so far – and the Thai movie to beat in the months to come.