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June 19, 2012

Yes or No? So I Love You

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Pu Chai Lulla: Yaak Rak Gaw Rak Loey
Sarasawadee Wongsompetch - 2010
Lots Entertainment Region 3 DVD

One of the popular descriptions people give to their own relationships is, "it's complicated". And so it goes with Yes or No?. Even though the film has been touted as Thailand's first lesbian romance, the characters understand how messy affairs of the heart can be, and also that there is tyranny to labels whether self-attached or applied to others.

Mostly centered on two college students, Pie has just changed dorm rooms due to her discomfort with a lesbian roommate. She finds that her new roommate, Kim, is tall and boyish looking with her short (for a Thai female) hair. After dividing the room with red tape, Pie sets some rules. Eventually the uneasy truce evolves into friendship, which in turn evolves into a more emotionally involved and volatile relationship.

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As Kim's Aunt Inn says, it is not appearances but what is in the heart. While Kim looks the part of the "tomboy", she freaks out at the appearance of a cockroach, and is afraid of the dark. Going further against the grain of stereotyping, at least for the female characters, is that the aggressively lesbian Jane is also the most super feminine. Only Jane's sidekick, the gangly, effeminate, and very gay Boyd, who perhaps makes the other males in this film nervous, would be considered a stock character.

This is a very gentle comedy drama. What works best is that there is the understanding that for these two girls, whatever they feel about each other is subject to parental and peer pressure, as well as uncertainty about one's sense of self. What is also of interest is that both Pie and Kim's attraction, deemed by some as unnatural, is played against their respective studies of the natural world, Ichthyology and Botany. While the film is clear eyed about homophobia, especially in the depiction of Pie's mother, there is also a brief moment of magic realism when a brief flurry of butterflies surround Pie and Kim.

Yes or No? was the directorial debut of Sarasawadee Wongsompetch. The film was enough of a commercial success that Yes or No 2 is scheduled for release later this summer. The film also gained Sarasawadee Wongsompetch a nomination for Best Director for Thailand's National Film Association Awards. Previously, Sarasawadee had served as a Second Unit or Assistant Director, most notably on Ong Bak. There is virtually nothing in English about Sarasawadee other than her filmography. Yes or No? has been screened for western audiences primarily in GLBT film festivals.

This post is part of the Queer Film Blogathon hosted by Garbo Laughs and Pussy Goes Grrr.

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Posted by peter at June 19, 2012 08:45 AM

Comments

I haven't heard of Yes or No? but it sounds simply charming! I would love to see it. Thanks so much for contributing this great review to the blogathon.

Posted by: Caroline at June 20, 2012 06:08 PM

Thanks, Caroline. I've enjoyed participating for this second year.

Posted by: Peter Nellhaus at June 21, 2012 06:47 AM