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Home is where the heart is

'Love of Siam' director Chookiat Sakveerakul's new drama is made up of three simple stories to which everyone can relate

After taking Thailand by storm with his tender gay teen romance "Rak Hang Siam" ("Love of Siam") in 2007, director Chookiat "Madiaw" Sakveerakul once again looks likely to cut close to the heart with his new drama "Home Khwam Rak Khwam Sook Khwam Songjam" ("Home").

Made up of three short stories that are very loosely interwoven, the film dwells on situations that many of us encounter at some times in our lives and is made exceptional by a soundtrack that is mainly in the Northern dialect.

The first story is about a high school graduate who spends an entire night taking photographs of his school and sharing his school life with a younger friend. The two separate as the sun rises.

The second part focuses on the life of 50-something Buajan (Penpak Sirikul) after she loses her husband to cancer of the larynx and how her beliefs prevent her from moving on.

The last part starts with the wedding of Sia Leng (Ruangsak Loychoosak), a man from the south and a northern woman Preeya (Siraphan Wattanajinda).

"Unlike my previous works, "Home" doesn't question any social problems. It's more of a personal film that pulls together my own memories," says the director.

"A writer would probably put these memories together in a collection of short stories collection. For a filmmaker, it comes out as an omnibus, with the characters in each part relating to each other in one way or another. We are the protagonists in our own stories but supporting characters in other people's lives," he explains.

And, as a Chiang Mai native, Chookiat's stories are set in the northern capital and conveyed simply yet compellingly through love, grief and friendship thanks to impressive acting from the cast.

The most vulnerable is Penpak as the wife who has to move after her husband death. In the northern culture, the widow makes merit every Buddhist holy day for the departed in his next life and it is this belief that binds Buajan to her late husband.

Chookiat says his inspiration for this part of the story comes from watching his mother following the death of his father from cancer a few years back.

After the chaos of the wedding day, the last part seems to end the story with hope and the promise of a new beginning. It's the most colourful part of the film and features a star-studded cast. A big fan of weddings, Chookiat shows how couples who really do want to be together find a way out when hit by a multitude of problems on their big day.

The use of the northern dialect helps to make the story goes smoothly, especially since all the actors are at ease speaking it. It helps, of course, that most of the people in the film hail from the north, including Penpak and Witwisit Hirunyawongkul who stars in last part.

Siraphan, who can't speak the dialect even though she grew up in Lampang, was coached by Witwisit and sounds natural. But the most exceptional is DJ and actress Puttachat Pongsuchat, whose talent for imitating other people's accents and personalities steal the show. Her northern dialect is spot on, even though she hails from the south.

Chookiat, a film graduate from Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Communication Arts, has several credits to his name even though he's only 31.

His debut, the horror flick "Khon Phee Pisaj" ("Pisaj"), looked at a girl suffering hallucinations after her parents were killed during the drug war waged by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

His second film, "13 Game Sayong" ("13 Beloved"), was a gritty drama about a deadly underground reality television game with materialism in Thai society as the subtext.

Since "Love of Siam", Chookiat's been busy managing August Band, which grew out of the film, and setting up Kammaun, a company that not only produces films but also music and deals with lighting supply in Chiang Mai.

With "Home" now under his belt, he will be turning his attention to the big budget action movie "14" - the long awaited sequel to "13 Beloved", which has been held up for lack of investment.



Going 'Home'

"Home Khwam Rak Khwam Songjam Mai Me Thee Sinsud" ("Home") has a sneak preview at 8pm in selected Bangkok cinemas tonight and tomorrow. The film goes on general release on Thursday.


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