The recurring comparison to Lost in Translation suffered by this Thai/Japanese film Last Life in the Universe was merely a timely one of having been released close together, & because of its presentation of an assexual romance & the two-character performance. In an earlier decade it might've been compared instead to Harold & Maud, which would be equally misleading.
Pen-Ek's film is in every way better than Lost in Translation. It has imagination, wit, & beauty, whereas Lost had mainly seriousness. The sets are realistic but with additions of color (most often the color green) that make the environment seem skewed, to match the skewed characters themselves.
The two leads turned in phenominal performances; they make even mundane acts appear to be infused with emotion & symbolism. As Kenji (Tadanobu Asano, who will be familiar to anyone who has seen a lot of Miike films or Gojoe) becomes progressively more girl-like & the Thai girl (Sinitta Boonyasak) with whom he takes shelter becomes more commanding, there seems to be a subtle commentary on gender going on, though the film never becomes one of sexual politics in lieu of character.
The unpretentious artfulness of this film makes me want to see anything I can lay my hands on by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl