Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pen Ek Ratanaruang

theSun published my interview with the well known director Pen Ek Ratanaruang from Thailand 

Headline : Going a Different Direction 
By Bissme S 

PEN-EK RATANARUANG may not be a familiar name here, but he is a well-known film director and screenwriter back home in Thailand. His films have garnered rave reviews at many prestigious international film festivals. But while Ratanaruang may be respected by his countrymen, the same can’t be said for his movies.
“They have never accepted my films,” says the 56-year-old, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently to promote his latest film, Samui Song.
He admits that it hurts when his fellow Thais give negative comments about his films.
“I have always regretted that. But all of us have regrets over something. I do not have to be happy all the time.”
To be honest, his films take some getting used to as they are difficult to understand, and have been called eccentric, and even mind-boggling. Watching one of his films is like trying to solve a puzzle.
Ratanaruang has toyed with the idea of presenting his films in a more conventional manner many times, so that the audience back home would love them.
“I really want to give them what they want to see,” he says. “But it is not easy. It takes a special skill to do that, and I do not have that skill.
“When you make a film, a lot of it comes from your character. The first thing I do whenever I write a script is to ask myself: ‘How will other people direct these scenes?’ – and then, I do the opposite.”
He simply cannot bring himself to change his directing style, or his rebellious nature.
“Once you are a thief, you are always a thief, and you cannot become a policeman,” he adds.
“So if you cannot become good, then you should try to be as bad as you can possibly be.”
On the surface, his latest film, Samui Song, appears to be a simple crime drama. The film is about a soap opera actress Viyada Beaufoy (played by Cherman Boonyasak) who feels trapped in an unhappy marriage to rich foreigner Jerome Beaufoy (Stéphane Sednaoui). She then makes the decision to break away from her husband, including hiring a stranger to kill him. 
The idea for the story came to Ratanaruang when he was out shopping one day, and bumped into a famous Thai actress with her European husband.
“I was drawn to them,” he recalls. “They looked perfect together. She was beautiful and he was dignified. I followed them without their knowledge. I was curious to see what they were buying ...
“Eventually, we paid for our items and went our separate ways.”
Over the next few days, he could not forget about the perfect couple.
“I was swimming and I remember the moment I finished my swim, I was ready for the wife to kill her husband,” he adds.
Despite the simple premise, Ratanaruang stays true to form, inserting so many layers into this thriller that the audience is left wondering if the murder even took place, or whether the actress imagined the murder.When asked to explain what really happens in the film, the director refuses, preferring to let the audience make their own conclusion.
“I know I may sound arrogant for not wanting to explain my films,” he says. “But I am not.
“To be honest, sometimes I do not even understand everything that takes place in my films!”
Ratanaruang loves focusing on unhappy relationships in most of his works. While he insists he is happily in love with his girlfriend, Ratanaruang admits: “If I did not have unhappy relationships, I could not write about them.
“I have many friends and colleague who confide in me. I do not know why they tell me their secrets, but they do.
“Some of them want to cheat on their spouses. I have not seen a truly happy relationship.
“Things can always change. When you enter into a new relationship, you always tell yourself that you will not repeat the mistakes you make in your past relationship. But, you always make new mistakes.”

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