14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The Last Lizard,
This review is from: Last Life In The Universe  [DVD] (DVD)
This was the first film I saw by Thai film director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, and without a doubt one of the most accomplished and satisfying I've seen in years.
The story revolves around two polar opposite characters - Kenji: A quiet and meticulous Japanese librarian with a hidden past, played by Japanese star Asano Tadanobu, and Noi: A street-wise, straight-talking Thai female, played by new comer Sinitta Boonyasak. Both characters seemingly only have one thing in common, and that is that they are both utterly lonely, albeit for different reasons - she is recently bereaved of her sister, he for a reason never fully disclosed is distanced from the world, an introverted outsider with no good reason to go on. Thrown together by a sequence of events they take solace from each others presence. From this begins an enchanting, touching and idiosyncratic movie. One that's not concerned with characterisation, an intricate plot or histrionics, but with how two troubled, contradictory beings grow closer and in the process rediscover a reason for being, and going on in the universe. Due to the language barrier (they flit from talking Thai, Japanese and English to understand one another) they may not have meaningful discourse, but here the meaning is hidden behind the formalities, the pedestrian, the everyday.
I'm not going to launch into an extended essay or spew too many superlatives, but believe me when I say this is required viewing. Assured, amusing and touching, this trilingual film is replete with a dry wit, a surreal element that leaves a lot open to interpretation, and a deft ability to evoke emotion. There are laudable performances from the two central characters, and a third from Christopher Doyle's shifting oblique camera-work and composition. And despite its clear East Asian cinematic influences (in tone it reminds me of Takeshi Kitano's 'Dolls') 'Last Life In The Universe' evokes modern day Thailand in all its chaotic ramshackle splendour brilliantly. Definitely a film to indulge in whilst alone...