Friday, June 5

Fan Chan (Thailand, 2003)

Rating: 4

Aww
escapes your lips, unaware like a sigh, and there's no fighting it. Fan Chan (แฟนฉัน) disarms with its sharp eye for gauzy details making the childhood nostalgia surface like a rubber ball bobbing up and down, foolishly playful among the debris of adult apprehension. You want to stay here in the land of rubber bands and Gumamela soups where freedom's just another word for kung fu role play.

Many have attempted to bottle childhood but have done so by skipping the dirt that a bicycle kicks up or the sourness of the sweat. Some mistake melodrama for meaning and riddle the innocence with tragic awakenings. But there is no concern for meaning when school is out and you're 8 years old and about to dive into a river butt naked.

Fan Chan
is cleverly simple: a young man, Jeab, learns about the wedding of Noi Nah, a childhood friend---a playground sweetheart---and goes back to their last weeks together before they separated ways. The six young screenwriters/directors who debut with this film have the riffs of memory perfected; a Thai pop song is the chirpy time machine to a small town in Thailand in the 1980s. Jeab (Charlie Trairat) and Noi Nah (Focus Jirakul) have been friends since birth, have fathers who are rival barbers and mothers who are best friends. Jeab wakes up late for school everyday, and everyday, Jeab and his father would chase the bus on a bike midway to school. On the bus, he meets an all-boy gang led by the school bully Jack (Chaleumpol Tikumpornteerawong) who constantly poked fun at Jeab and Noi Nah's closeness. Boys will be boys and Jeab was made to choose between playing Chinese Garter (or rubber band jump-rope according to Wikipedia) with Noi Nah or foot ball with Jack and his gang.

The film's English title, My Girl, is quite a turn-off because it reminded me of that Home Alone kid's movie of the same title, the one where it was all cuddly cute until he died. From bee stings, thank you very much. Fan Chan in contrast is unsentimental, which I think is a very, very brave move. Bittersweet is as far as it goes, that accidentally romantic rubber band bit at the end is quite a heartbreaker but as the grown up Jeab confesses, he got over it quickly...why, hello kite.

I am amazed at the similarity of experience; I played the same rubber band games and "brewed" the same nasty flower stew---I even tried the slimy soup at one point, not at all good--- and in a palpable way I was recollecting my own sweat-stained childhood down the tiny but heavily crowded streets of Sampaloc, Manila. Fan Chan is not about the plot, it is a celebration of days running wild with laughter, of the kind of recklessness that only comes with innocence. It deliberately meanders around endless afternoons of playing and bruising (much like My Neighbor Totoro's wide-eyed treks into the forest). And discovering new ways to have fun which, really, childhood is all about.

Minutes after the movie had finished, I began to wonder when I started fearing falling down flat on my face When did making mistakes stop being fun, when did letting go become so difficult?

Look everybody, no hands!



A song from the Fan Chan OST. Technicolor synth-pop, aw yeah.

รักคือฝันไป - Ost.fanchan

15 comments:

Andy Briones said...

Sounds like a fun, breezy film; hope to catch this in bootleg. Hehe.

Thor Bee said...

This is a really good movie, very rare in the subtlety of its handling of the subject matter. Walang pa-cute. Considering that I don't like kids pa. Hehe.

Aaron カイジュン said...

Hey there, I just watched this movie and tell you I'm so in love with it...Cant seem to find the OST :(

Thor Bee said...

Hi, Aaron. Thanks for dropping by.

Fan Chan is so endearing; I love it to bits. I don't have a copy of the OST as well, I wish I had. I've only found streaming of some tracks of the OST. Click on the link in the player for the complete version.

Aaron カイジュン said...

I have this song...its called รักคือฝันไป (Love is a dream) by Jeen Patcha Pett. Also check out แฟนฉัน Faen Chun by AB Normal.

Kevin (Ket) said...

Oh my God. Haha, my DVD came today. Watching it now. It's like you're just waiting for the next thing to remind you of your childhood. Sigh though, my list started pretty early in the movie. Without saying too much, my parents used the feather duster (that looks just like the one in the movie) for the exact same purpose...

Thor Bee said...

Ouch! Me, it was usually a broom or a good ol' fashioned slap on the butt. Fan Chan is almost magical when it comes to evoking childhood memories.

So I'm guessing you're on the lookout for the OST?

Kevin (Ket) said...

You know what the cruelest part of it all was?! They would ask me to go get it for them!

No, I wasn't crazy about the music used in the movie. Granted, I never really liked 1980's music to begin with. I'm more of a 70's or even 90's person. If I wanted it though, which I may eventually, I already know where to get it. Same place as where I got my "Hormones" soundtrack...

http://www.ethaicd.com/show.php?pid=10835

Honestly, I suspected when I went into the movie that it would be the music that would leave me the most cold. More than anything else, it is the music that is specifically targeted to building up nostalgic thoughts in Thai audiences. The movie just does it for me because it gets other things right. The directors discussed that they had the boys playing make-believe wuxia-style because that is what they were exposed to when they were young. Since my father was an immigrant from Hong Kong, when he came here to America, he would often go to the Chinatown in New York City and rent wuxia films and Chinese dramas from a specialty store. Those were, incidentally, my first exposure to subtitled movies, starting from around 7 or 8 years old.

Kevin (Ket) said...

I'm so weak hearted. I resolved to not buy it because I really should be saving money now. Until I found myself listening some tracks from it on IMEEM.

Then I looked at the link I actually provided to you, and it turns out the soundtrack is no longer available. So sad now...

ಶರಶ್ಚಂದ್ರ ಕಲ್ಮನೆ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ಶರಶ್ಚಂದ್ರ ಕಲ್ಮನೆ said...

I watched this movie 2 days back and i m still unable to come out of Fan Chan hangover. Jeab's childhood is so similar to my childhood and i think most of ours. Really, a great movie to have. One of my all time bests. Music too plays a keyrole. can anybody tell me the name of the song and the artist of the song played when kids win the soccor match and riding bicycle. Please let me know, i am in love with that song very much.

Sharath

Thor Bee said...

Hi, Sharath. Thanks for dropping by and joining on the walk down the memory lane of one's childhood. :)

I think you are referring to Concert kon jon by Nok Lae. This is the song which the kids were singing along to, right? Will have to re-watch that scene again to be sure though.

There are some tracks available on imeem. Here's a link:

http://www.imeem.com/people/O0iuAXZ/music/oum8GfxJ/nok-lae-concert-kon-jon-mp3/

-----------

Kevin, yeah, I checked the link, too. Hopefully they'll re-stock soon.

It took me awhile to warm up to the soundtrack but a after a few spins, I began loving the vinyl-esque quality of the older tracks.

And oh. Welcome to the blog world!

ಶರಶ್ಚಂದ್ರ ಕಲ್ಮನೆ said...

Thanks a lot Thor bee. Ya that was exactly the song i was looking for. I downloaded that song yesterday and what a great song it is. Thanks a lot again, keep in touch :)

Sharath

topen said...

i really love this movie, so bringing back memories of a child...., and hard to admit it im touch at jeab does't meet noi na again,

anyone can find me... the soundtrack of this movie....., im google it does't foudn yet...

Kevin (Ket) said...

Topen,

The soundtrack JUST became available again on ethaicd.com.

http://www.ethaicd.com/show.php?pid=10835

Already put my own order in. Wouldn't want to wait until it's sold out for a year again.