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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Present Perfect ** / Present Still Perfect ***

In 2017, Thai romantic movie Present Perfect was widely acclaimed at festivals around the world and became beloved of audiences both at home and abroad. Now, its sequel has just been released online via GagaOOLala, so I took a look at both films.

Starring: Kristana Maroukasonti, Adisorn Tonawanik, Preeyada Sittachai

Director: Anusorn Sousa-Ngim

Country: Thailand

Toey (Tonawanik) has just split from his girlfriend and has travelled to Hagashikawa, an obscure area of Japan, far from tourists. There he is looked after by his friend Mhai (Sittachai) and meets Oat (Maroukasonti), another Thai guest at the residential complex. As they get to know each other, a spark is lit between them, even though Toey had never thought about being with a man before. But even though Oat does consider himself gay, he is engaged to be married to a woman and intends to go through with the wedding when he returns to Thailand.

The relationship between the two is very sweet, even if it is maddening that Toey – who doesn’t understand his sexuality – is willing to give it a shot when Oat – who does – isn’t. External pressures are touched upon, but mostly we get to see them tentatively exploring their newfound love for each other, even if showing their affection on screen is noticeably absent.

Mhai is positioned as the comic relief, but the jokes fall relatively flat. The pace is also laboured and indelibly slow, plodding through romantic moments that seem relatively inconsequential for the most part. It’s only in the final ten minutes that the narrative turns up the heat. And in such a grey and featureless area of Japan, there’s not that much pretty to look at either, even if seeing observations of Japanese culture and cuisine through Thai eyes is quite fascinating at times.

They’re a sweet couple and you’ll want them to be together. It’s the Thai Weekend for sure, but you’ll just wish for a little more plot.


Starring: Kristana Maroukasonti, Adisorn Tonawanik, Ryota Omi, Chalida Sutitosatham, Darina Boonchu

Director: Anusorn Sousa-Ngim

Country: Thailand

We return to Toey three years later. We are now at a beautiful resort in Thailand, with Toey having travelled Asia seemingly continuously since the end of the last film. He has spent three years resisting contact with Oat online, but when he meets and argues with a Japanese fellow guest (Omi), he is reminded once again of their time together and sends a drunken furious message, telling him where he is. Suddenly, Oat arrives and decides to stay. Though Toey is overjoyed to see him again, he is torn between pursuing his own happiness and his guilt about Oat’s wife and child.

It’s great to see the pair reunited and, at this point, very much feels like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise/Before Sunset saga. You can also see the fairly standard sequel formula being applied here too: bigger budget, better location, larger cast, higher stakes. Where the first film was grey and austere, this is in full technicolour with a stunning location of wooden huts perched around a swimming lagoon. Also, the hotel’s owner Jen (Boonchu) is the new comic relief, and this time she is genuinely funny; overblown, exaggerated and creating genuine relief from the earnestness of their relationship. And this time we actually meet Oat’s wife (Sutitosatham), making us question just how much we are rooting for these two to be together.

There will likely be a third instalment of this story in the future, but as romances go, these movies are fairly innocuous and sweet. We finally get to see Toey and Oat’s intimacy on screen in this instalment too, which clearly seeks to make up for lost time by somewhat over-showing it. These are fairly sweet romantic movies, but certainly don’t reinvent the wheel. But sometimes all you want is to fall in love with a couple on screen!



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