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Jakarta Post

'€˜May Who?'€™ a jolt in Thai teen comedy

  • Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, October 17, 2015   /  04:08 pm

Teen flicks will never be the same again as the latest work of Chayanop '€œMoo'€ Boonprakob has set a new benchmark.

If Indonesia has Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (What'€™s Up with Cinta?) and Japan has Beck as their darling coming-of-age movies for the Y-generation, Thailand came out with SuckSeed, which combines storytelling with rock music and motion graphic '€” two elements that never fail to capture the market.

SuckSeed became wildly successful in the region in 2011 and is still attracting hordes of new fans. But Boonprakob has returned with something to rival his own directorial debut feature.

May Who? is the international title of May Nhai Fai Raeng Froer (the last word is pronounced fer), which tells the story of an unusual girl, a dork and high school romance.

It looks like a common premise with an easy-to-guess ending, an assumption that Boonprakob doesn'€™t deny.

Instead, he threw something else into the mix of the usual ingredients '€” good-looking actors, a smartly composed script and a fantastic music score '€” that gives the teenage romantic comedy an electrifying element. Literally.

He adapted Hollywood'€™s superhero image to suit Thai culture and the film budget, which in turn boosted the creativity.

The titular girl is among the school'€™s invisibles, being not May the Cheerleader or May the Cutter '€“ not a single label does she earn to be put after the most common Thai girl'€™s name '€“ hence the nickname.

Our heroine May Who (Sutatta '€œPunpun'€ Udomsilp) lies low to hide her super power, which is the releasing of electric shocks when her heartbeat reaches 120 per minute.

The only person at the Japanese-Thai education school who knows about her ability is another school invisible, Pong (Thiti '€œBank'€ Mahayotaruk), who lives in his own world of drawing comics in school exercise books.

The hidden power accidently comes to light in an incident involving Pong'€™s love interest, Ming (Narikunn Ketprapakorn), and May'€™s secret crush, school A-lister Fame (Thanapob '€œTor'€ Leeratanakajorn).

All of the main cast members are alumni from popular TV series Hormones the Series, chosen by Boonprakob because they were a '€œperfect fit for the characters'€.

If in SuckSeed Boonprakob shares his love of music, this time his passion for comics and animation come to the fore.

Animation played a major role in the film to bring Pong'€™s comic diary to life, a smart option taken to visualize the magnitude of May'€™s power.

The film, at 120 minutes long, is perhaps a too long for a teenage comedy, but it is visually attractive and no single frame goes to waste with dull conversation or unnecessary face time as is usual in star-studded projects.

As in the case of the Indonesia film industry that recently regularly screened Thai romantic comedy and is witnessing the rising popularity of the genre, May Who? should be used as a new benchmark for local talents who are still juggling between creativity and commercial value in their work.

Currently, Indonesian filmmakers still copy the neighboring country'€™s work, such as the 2014 production I Fine '€¦ Thank You Love You into Love You '€¦ Love You Not starring Chelsea Islan and Hamish Daud.

May Who? is an entertaining film for all the young at heart and has you laughing from the start. If the two hours are not enough, the main cast plans to visit Jakarta on Oct. 24 to promote the film. Be prepared.