Charming gift to the Thais

Chantavit Dhanasevi (far left) and Nuengthida Sophon star in A Gift.
Chantavit Dhanasevi (left) and Nuengthida Sophon star in A Gift.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES



144 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3.5/5 stars

The story: The lives of six people in Thailand are portrayed in three separate but loosely connected parts: a romance blooms between two college students (Naphat Siangsomboon and Violette Wautier); a young woman (Nittha "Mew" Jirayungyurn) deals with her father's worsening dementia; and two colleagues (Chantavit Dhanasevi and Nuengthida Sophon) are eager to start a musical band in their office.

The title does not refer to a gift in the story. Rather, the film itself is the gift here - to the revered late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej, as well as the Thai people, who have slowly come out of mourning following his death last October.

Through stories inspired by several of the late king's cheery musical compositions, such as Love At Sundown and New Year Greeting, the film pays loving and heartfelt tribute to his art as well as his sevendecade reign.

For international audiences, this omnibus film works just as well as the perfect Thai souvenir as it showcases all that is great about Thai comedy films in a single package - it is funny and sentimental without being cloying.

It employs the same kind of humour and charm seen in all the successful narrative-driven Thai television commercials that go viral on social media.

Each of the three parts here, helmed by three separate directing teams, are distinct in style and tone. The first segment is a romantic comedy, the second a moving family drama, and it ends with a madcap comedy.

Yet each story is sweet, wellmeaning and competently performed by some of Thailand's hottest young stars.

Those who follow Thai films will recognise familiar faces such as the hunky Sunny Suwanmethanon (I Fine... Thank You... Love You, 2014) and the gorgeous Nittha (One Day, 2016), who prove once again that they have a lot more to offer than just pan-Asian good looks.

They were so dedicated to their roles that they learnt to play the piano from scratch.

This is one gift well worth unwrapping.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Charming gift to the Thais'. Print Edition | Subscribe