Director: Songyos Sugmakanan
Cast: Charlie Trairat, Sirachuch Chienthaworn, Ungsumalynn Sirapatsakmetha, Focus Jirakul, Ratchu Surajaras, Chutima Teepanat, Thaniya Ummaritchoti, Chantawit Thanasewee, Sora Aoi, Lu Ting Wei
Runtime: 130 min
Seen on Thai Airways flight from London to Bangkok.
There is nothing especially new in Sugmakanan’s 2008 Thai teen romantic comedy – the characters are well familiar, the plot fairly predictable – but the film is surprisingly watchable nonetheless.
Pit Thoem Yai Hua Chai Wa Wun (woefully translated as Hormones in English, but more literally meaning ‘school break, hearts aflutter’) is composed of four sets of youthful love: A pair of high school friends, Pu (Charlie Trairat) and Mai (Sirachuch Chienthaworn), – two peas in a pod – both develop a crush on Nana (Ungsumalynn Sirapatsakmetha), who already graduated and cherishes the attention, even if it means that she is toying with the usually inseparable boys by going out with one on even days, the other on odd. In love tale #2, Oh Lek (Focus Jirakul) is so infatuated with the Taiwanese pop idol Didi (Lu Ting Wei) that she enrols in Mandarin class over the summer in preparation for the star’s first concert in Thailand ever. Then there is a geeky boy, Joe (Ratchu Surajaras), who falls for Cee (Chutima Teepanat), the most gorgeous girl in his year, and tries to sway her with well-intended but a little too enthusiastic declarations of love. She, however, finds it all too overwhelming and tells him that they are only friends. Lastly, Hern (Chantawit Thanasewee) and Nuan (Thaniya Ummaritchoti), two university students, have been together for nearly three years and now face a summer apart – and, with that, temptations that just might break their relationship.
Despite the common and essentially rather superficial storylines, Pit Thoem Yai Hua Chai Wa Wun somehow manages to charm with characters that are real and thus highly relatable as well as plenty of little comic moments (Pu and Mai’s opening scene is plenty amusing, greatly energetic and revealing in terms of their characters). While it is not the sort of film that leaves any lasting impact on viewers, it is entertaining and, for its intended teen audience, it may even be meaningful: the struggles on the screen reflect their own and are developed in a way that even if reality is humourised, its darker sides aren’t sugarcoated away (cruel teasing, quasi-stalking and cheating are all seen). Nor is it all happy-ever-afters as some individuals are left to learn hard lessons. Surprisingly, the most endearing tale turns out to be most unrealistic one: Oh Lek’s fangirling is initially quite annoying as she screams continuously at the sight of a life-sized Didi cutout, but her indefatigable passion – she tapes post-its with Chinese vocabulary all over her house and does not show even an ounce of embarrassment when carrying the cutout figure on a public bus and paying the bus fare for it – soon wins us over, so by the time unlikely dreams do come true, we can really only cheer for her.
Overall verdict: Pit Thoem Yai Hua Chai Wa Wun offers nothing particularly new and is rather inconsequential as one romantic comedy among millions, yet is sufficiently entertaining and provides some relatable and, by and large, sensitively told stories for its intended teen audience.
- Aoi is played by the Japanese adult video actress Sora Aoi. With the film being aimed at teenagers, her name was kept off all the promotional materials for this very reason.
- Apparently Japanese females are seen as easy women in Thai culture and feature in much porn. The casting of a busty Japanese AV actress in the role of the ‘seductress’ certainly reinforces this stereotype.
- The film, which was the third-highest grossing Thai production at the local box office in 2008, was later adapted into a TV series.
- Focus Jirakul won a number of acting awards in Thailand for her turn as fangirl Oh Lek, including at the 18th Thai National Film Awards, the 17th Bangkok Critics Assembly Awards and the 6th Hamburger Awards. Deservedly, I would say.
- I was totally cheering for Pu and Mai (true soulmates)… not that I thought there was any chance for a Thai teen film to go into that direction! Oh well, nothing beats bromance.
- Alternative reviews: Something to Sing about, One Metal, Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal.