Die Tomorrow

 

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A highly original dramatic meditation built around attitudes to death.

 
Die Tomorrow

   

The title Die Tomorrow could suggest a violent thriller or a horror movie, but this work from Thailand is as far away from those possibilities as could be imagined. It is a third feature from the writer/director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit whose first one, 2012's 36, was a work that struck me as being expressive of life as something decidedly fragile. If his second piece Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy (2013), failed to match it, Die Tomorrow finds the filmmaker right back in his groove, a very personal one that I find engaging. Like 36, this is a work which eschews conventional narrative and opts wisely for a relatively short running time (75 minutes) and, by concentrating directly on the subject of death, it focusses even more directly on life's fragility.

 

A quiet, intensely individual work, Die Tomorrow incorporates short scenes that could well be authentic moments in which two small boys and a centenarian express their thoughts about death. However, most of the film is devoted to six episodes featuring actors: each piece is distinct but involves a character who will in the event die on the very next day. We know this because written statements appear placed before or after each segment to confirm it. Two of the later sequences seem less personal in character than the rest: a situation in which the death of an actress due to appear in an advertising film brings luck to the person chosen to replace her could have been extended to make a conventional film and, similarly, a young man's suicide after falling out with his girlfriend suggests familiar dramatic territory even if in both cases the shooting style is pleasingly unusual.

 

The best of Die Tomorrow is to be found in the other sequences which gain even more from the fact that the players involved give performances that never for a moment suggest that they are actors. The opening piece captures the talk of young girls looking to the future in full expectation of a long life ahead, while the second features a brother and sister reunited but postponing a meal together which we realise will never take place. Best of all is the third section about a youngish couple with death on their minds because the girl needs a heart transplant but, as it turns out, she will be the one soon bereaved. Their scene together is gentle and splendidly centred on mundane details that reveal their rapport (the cutting by her of his nails, he giving her a massage). A fine music score not overused manages to be soothing without being sentimental and these episodes are even more telling that the last one in which we see a veteran musician attended by his daughter as he awaits a peaceful death at home. Throughout the film, the main episodes are shot on a tighter ratio to add to the sense of intimacy that is so important to the film as a whole: however differently death may be viewed by those we see, the film itself looks on it as an intrinsic part of life. Indeed statistics are quoted confirming that two people die every second and at intervals we are discretely reminded how many have passed away while the movie has been running. This is not a film for everybody and some parts are more memorable than others, but Die Tomorrow is the work of an artist and it has a flavour all its own.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Patcha Poonpiriya, Chonnikan Netjui, Chutimon Chuengcharoen-sukying, Morakot Liu, Koramit Vajarasthira, Sirat Intarachote, Sunny Suwanmethanont, Rattanrat Eertaweekul, Jarinporn Joonkiat.

 

Dir Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Pro Pacharin Surawatanapongs and Donsaron Kovitvanitcha, Screenplay Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Ph Niramon Ross, Pro Des Phairot Siriwath, Ed Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Music Tongta Jitdee and Pokpong Jitdee, Costumes Pacharin Surawatanapongs.

 

Very Sad Pictures/One Cool Production Co. Ltd/Purin Pictures-Day for Night.
75 mins. Thailand. 2017. Rel: 26 July 2019. Cert. 12A.