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Sundance 2021: One for the Road

An explosion of sound and colour from the second it starts, the sophomore feature film of Baz Poonpiriya, One For The Road, has nods to its producer, Kar-Wai Wong within the opening sequence. It feels like a film that loves movies, lending every ounce of its respect to the craft of filmmaking and endeavours to tell its story most interestingly.

Two friends separated by distance reunite when Boss returns home to Thailand from New York after receiving a call from Aood who reveals he is in the final stages of terminal cancer. Aood is on a mission to amend wrongs of his past, and Boss agrees to come along for the ride taking him to see ex-girlfriends on his redemption mission.

The film looks immaculate. There is little more to be done that would add to its style and flair. Every stylistic choice lends itself to the bold and daring personalities of its protagonists who are afforded the opportunity of being unlikeable at times. It has a passion for everything within the frame, from making a cocktail to driving the open road, there isn’t one stone unturned by Poonpiriya and his crew. The dynamic editing of Chonlasit Upanigkit, Phaklao Jiraungkoonkun’s cinematography and the production design work harmoniously with Poonpiriya’s vision for this heartwarming tale of friendship and deceit.

Though there is so much to fall in love with, the chemistry between the leads truly makes the film. The friendship feels lived in, one of those dynamics which falls back into step despite time apart. Boss is thirty years old with the same childlike energy he had in his youth and effortlessly cool, while Aood is funny, with a zest for life and desire to pursue everything with full force despite his belief of having “no dreams, no passions”. Between the two of them, it is easy to be swept up by their shenanigans.

Poonpiriya explores life for all its faults. The fleeting nature of it, the reality of chasing dreams, the mistakes we make out of selfish angst. He gives the audience the grace of being seen and identifiable in his protagonists and allows us to form a love for them before he removes the rose-coloured glasses. It is so meticulous and wants to honour every detail of being alive that its lengthy run-time breezes by in a rush of adrenaline.

Verdict

Though it is bursting with energy, there is also a profound melancholy in its handling at times, when fleeting bursts of actuality puncture joy that dares us to be aware of our ephemeral existence. Those moments of sobriety are what make this film so excellent. Even when it meanders momentarily from its primary narrative, we want to go with it and get lost in its beauty.

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