By the time you read this movie review, I believe the income of ‘Pee Mak Phra Khanong’, a BIG surprising hit for the Thai film industry in the beginning of this summer, must have passed 300 million THB already. Actually, I was lucky enough to watch this film in the first week after the premiere and the line was not very long to get a ticket. But last week, my friends and I went to a cinema in Bangkok to watch another movie and unbelievably found that the line was so long that we gave up watching a movie that evening. I think you can guess what movie they were in line to watch.
The story of Mak and Nak.
‘ Pee Mak Phra Khanong ’ is a new interpretation based on the legendary love story of Mak and Nak- a husband and wife who lived happily together in Phra Khanong (a district in Bangkok). One day, Mak was called to serve the country and had to leave his pregnant wife alone. When the war was over, he came back to his lovely wife and met a new family member- their son named Dang. It seemed to be a happy-ending love story except that he did not know Nak had been dead while she was giving birth to her son. However, with the love she had for Mak, she became a ghost waiting for her husband’s return and would not let anyone be in the way.
For more than 30 years, there have been movies, TV series, and musical plays made from this story. All of them, I believe, told the story through Nak’s eye and focused on horrific things Nak could do to be with the man she loved so much that even death could not ‘do them part’. However, Banjong Pisanthanakun, the director and the writer, decided to retell this story but, this time, through Mak’s eye. The story starts with Mak (Mario Maurer) in a battle field fighting together with his 4 friends (Nattapong Chatipong, Wiwat Kongrasri, Kantapat Seeda, Pongsathorn Jongwilas). At the time, Nak (Davika Hoorne) was struggling to give birth to their baby. When the war was over, he and his friends returned to Phra Khanong. Everything is going so well until the 4 friends find out that Nak is a ghost. They try so hard to tell Mak about this.
Box office hit.
According to the past movies directed by Banjong, his name can be used to guarantee the quality and the money of the movies in the genre of horror (‘Shutter’ in 2004 and ‘Alone’ in 2007), especially, horror/comedy (‘Phobia’ in 2008 and ‘Phobia 2’ in 2009) films. The movie is full of universal gags that will make you laugh to death; still, there are some of the jokes which might not be understandable for the Non-Thai audience. For example, in the beginning of the film, Nak is standing at the pier of her house and mourning for her husband that “Pee Mak Kha” which literally means “My dear Mak”. The joke focuses on the words ‘Mak’ (which in the movie is the name or means ‘many’) and ‘Kha’ (that can be used to show politeness and respect for ladies or means ‘a leg’). Thus, during the scene of Nak mourning for Mak, there are inserted features of a scorpion, a centipede and other kinds of reptiles with so ‘many legs’ to represent the phrase ‘Mak Kha’.
A Thai movie you must see!
In terms of acting, all 6 leading actors did a very good job on drawing the laughter from the audience although it seemed to get a little boring in the second act to watch the 4 friends trying to escape from Nak and to tell Mak the truth over and over again. Apart from the comical story, the actors who played Mak (Mario Maurer) and Nak (Davika Hoorne) gave a credible relationship of a man and a ghost. Mario was so believable playing Mak- a man with a pure heart who loved his wife so much that he behaved like a child every time being with Nak while Davika could play the ghost who gave up dying so that she could stay just for a bit longer with her husband. The scene of them both in a ferris wheel is one of the best romantic scenes in the film.
To me, this movie is worth watching either alone or with Thai friends who can explain you more about the legendary love story of Mak and Nak including some jokes that only Thais can explain the best.
By Jeff Chapel.