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'Shutter' director explores different perspective of suicide in fantasy drama ‘Homestay’

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, April 3, 2019  /  11:00 am

Thai director Parkpoom Wongpoom, who helmed Shutter (2004) and 4bia (2008), went out of his comfort zone with Homestay, a fantasy drama flick.

Released last year in Thailand, Homestay gives a different perspective on suicide. It follows a nameless soul who is given a new body, but later has to find out why the body’s previous inhabitant,, Min (Teeradon “James” Supapunpinyo), killed himself in his room.

Being given a limited time of 100 days, the soul becomes Min, who is a student and later stumbles on strange facts about his family and surroundings, including why his room is mostly empty without personal belongings and why he keeps a brooch owned by his fellow friend-tutor and love interest, Pi (Cherprang Areekul). It also seems that his mother (Suquan Bulakul) is the family member who loves him the most, when compared to his father (Roj Kwantham) and older brother, Menn (Nutthasit “Best” Kotimanuswanich).

Min (Teeradon 'James' Supapunpinyo, right) poses with his family; his brother Menn (Nutthasit 'Best' Kotimanuswanich, left), father (Roj Kwantham, second left) and mother (Suquan Bulakul, second right).Min (Teeradon 'James' Supapunpinyo, right) poses with his family; his brother Menn (Nutthasit 'Best' Kotimanuswanich, left), father (Roj Kwantham, second left) and mother (Suquan Bulakul, second right). (gdh559.com/File)

Having a different kind of attitude, the soul gives new color into Min’s life. The soul then has to come up with an answer regarding Min’s death before the 100-day period is over and it will be gone forever.  

Adapted from best-selling Japanese novel Colorful by Eto Mori, Homestaystarts with intense scenes that directly engage the audience. The computer graphic imagery (CGI) applied in the film is quite smooth and Wongpoom has succeeded in gradually building emotions to draw audiences into the story, although sometimes it can be too slow and slightly dragging. Kudos to the actors who give great performances, especially James, Bulakul, Best and Areekul.

During an interview, Wongpoom said James was not his first choice to play the main character, but he changed his mind when he saw the actor's performance in Bad Genius (2017). “He’s an actor who delves deeper into his character,” Wongpoom said during an interview on Saturday at Grand Indonesia in Central Jakarta. “As for Best, he has starred in plenty of Thai films and is a detail-oriented person.”

Read also: Thai film 'Bad Genius' too good to miss

An interview session sees the participation of (left to right) Best, director Parkpoom Wongpoom and James on March 30 at CGV Grand Indonesia in Central Jakarta.An interview session sees the participation of (left to right) Best, director Parkpoom Wongpoom and James on March 30 at CGV Grand Indonesia in Central Jakarta. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

The two-hour film took around 13 years to make as Wongpoom had to wait 10 years to get the novel’s license. “The novel gives strength to its readers, [it] makes people recognize love and understand that their lives are precious,” Wongpoom said, adding that the film had gained quite a success in Thailand.

The actors joined a three-month workshop to prepare for the film. Both James and Best said they had not read the book prior to filming. “I [only] read the script […] and after the shooting was done, I really want to read the novel,” Best said.

Homestay was James’ debut as lead actor, and he admitted it was a challenging task as he had lots of emotional scenes. “I felt the pressure as if I wasn’t good enough, the film wouldn’t be good either,” James said, adding that he had a playlist that he listened to in order to get him in the mood.

A press conference is attended by (left to right) James and Best on March 30 at CGV Grand Indonesia in Central Jakarta.A press conference is attended by (left to right) James and Best on March 30 at CGV Grand Indonesia in Central Jakarta. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Additionally, James was grateful for his Indonesian fans who always support him. “Hopefully my other series can be officially screened here, such as Great Men Academy and In Family We Trust,” said James.

Promising that he will soon return with horror projects, Wongpoom said he was proud of himself for being able to improve and escape his comfort zone with Homestay.

“I’d like to support those who are desperate with their lives and feel like no one loves them,” Wongpoom said. “This film wishes to deliver a message that actually there are people who still care about you, but you may not realize it.” (kes)

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