“OK, fine, fine, I’ll check it out,” I promised my friend, who pestered me about the film, ‘Bangkok Traffic Love Story’. She had seen it and raved about it. Apparently, it’s the idea of the monorail transport company in Bangkok, and it did indeed sound like an interesting idea: make a movie, a standalone movie to promote the usage of the transportation system in the city. Smart. I can imagine a forbidden love story made between the Putra and Star LRT systems.
However, I’m not usually such a big fan of such efforts. For the most part, I believe in storytelling for the sake of telling a story. While I admit that it is not such a strict rule, I do believe that there is a noticeable difference in quality when a film is being made without that being at the forefront of the proceedings. I think you can see such a difference as well, when you watch a film whose existence you know is commercial in nature, and films that has a story it wants to tell.
However, at times, I am myself swayed by the enthusiasm of others. In this case, since I’m the kind of guy who watches pretty much anything anyway, I made the effort to catch this film.
The story follows Ly (Sirin Horwang), a young woman who is preparing for her friend’s wedding. Of course, a big part of the preparation involves getting drunk. It’s not the best conditions in which to drive home, but drive home she did, leading to an accident. A passerby of sorts, Loong (Theeradej Wongpuapan), helps her out and she manages to find her way back home.
Of course, her parents weren’t happy at the accident, and she is forbidden from driving.
Now we are led to the crux o the story, as Ly would have to go to work using public transport. Wouldn’t you know it, Loong works at the Bangkok Mass Transit System company (popularly known as BTS), the company that runs the sky train in the city. As the story progresses, Ly finds herself becoming more and more attracted to Loong. Given that he’s being portrayed by one of the most popular actors in the country, you have an idea of how not-so-difficult it is to fall in love with this good-looking lad. Of course, complications arise and misunderstandings occur before the film’s end, one which would, in all honesty, be fairly easy to predict.
That is because it follows quite a simple formula to get there. Hapless girl meets prince charming. Throw in a sprinkling of jealous friends (such as Plern [Ungsumalynn Sirapatsakmetha], who, instead of getting Loong’s number for Li, keeps it for herself instead), supportive friends (Ped [Panisara Pimpru], whose wedding it was Li helped with) and even some spectres of the past like old flames (such as Kob Kavita [Taksaorn Paksukjareon], Loong’s ex who is also an actress, a point we’ll return to later), which can help to serve as the ultimate obstacle towards eternal happiness, and voila! You have yourself a romantic comedy.
So on that front, it does fulfill a number of requirements, one which will satisfy followers of this particular genre. However, I also find it interesting to take a closer look at how the complications occurred. While it is nothing particularly new, the usage of digital technology always fascinates me. To be more specific, it is the portrayal of such technology. For example, it wasn’t so long ago that I saw an episode of The Simpsons with iPhones being very prevalent. It struck me as somewhat odd: the Simpsons never grow old, but the world around them do.
In this case, it was the technology of film negatives that proved to be key. One of the major misunderstandings of the film was caused by the development of old strips of film negatives, which then led to the publishing of some rather interesting pictures. Further consideration of this leads to an analysis of how technology, both old and new (the posting of such pictures on social networks, for example, though it has to be said: Hi5? Come Thailand, get with the programme ☺), combined to give rise to the current consumer craze for scandals. In such celebrity-mad times do we live, and a by product of the growing lack of privacy suffered by many is the exposure of certain things we do not wish to be revealed. In the case of ‘Bangkok Traffic Love Story’, we do see that happening, and it gave me food for thought. On a more technical level, the prominence of the trains allows for some very nice symmetrical shots with shallow depths of field.
Beyond that, however, I do not suspect that many will give that too much thought (though her Chinese grandmother is worth a look in that way; a look at the trailer below will explain more). That’s not to say that it is beyond the thinking of many; rather, the film is simply not constructed and shaped as such. It is a romantic comedy, and it should therefore be primarily treated as such. For me, it does not intend to do much, but what it intends to do it did very well. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would have, and I believe that is a testament to the script and development of characters. I would say, though, that the clear splitting of moods (first half comedy, second half drama) might not float the boats of some.
It is, however, all romantic. I don’t know how many of them would ride the public transport more because of this (though it bearing in mind that it is made by BTS, it doesn’t exactly portray all the other forms of public and private transportation in good light; just look at those cars in the opening bits of the film!), but it may help to make the idea less aversive.
Only if their cars broke down, though…
Fikri thanks Paulista for this.