Karaoke Girl”, a debut feature film by a Thai female director Visra Vichit Vadakan, stands out as a story of an escort girl in Bangkok, told without moralizing or reproach.... more In fact, many scenes of the movie feel so merry that one might forget this is a documentary drama film.
“Karaoke Girl” introduces 23-year-old Sa Sittijun, a real-life Thai escort girl, into the world of cinema. Officially Sa, who came to Bangkok eight years ago, worked simply as a “hostess” in a karaoke bar. And while it is implied that her job involved more than just singing to please the men in attendance, the film always blacks out discreetly at the right moment. Much more important to the story is Sa’s attempt to balance her night shifts with supporting her family in rural Thailand whilst maintaining a complicated relationship with Ton (Supavich Mepremwattana).
One of the biggest assets of the film is the cinematography by Sandi Sissel, whose previous works included big-budget productions such as “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “Austin Powers”. “Karaoke Girl” effectively captures the beauty of rural Thai streets and fields, quiet ocean waves and the alluring Bangkok views. Camera often follows the lead actress from behind, in a style slightly reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky’s movies. The overall photography is so peaceful and beautiful – Sa is seen playing with a puppy, celebrating a holiday in her village and having a glamorous moment singing in a bar – that the grittier side of the story might be largely overshadowed.
Effortlessly blending fact and fiction in her story, “Karaoke Girl” has a slow-paced, peaceful narrative. The smooth editing of the film combines the documentary and drama together, showcasing Sa’s real family members weighing in on the course of her life opposite a more fictionalized subplot of her relationship with Ton. But it is Sittijun herself who is the heart and soul of the film – despite her job, the need to financially support her family and a troubled personal life, Sa does not think of herself as a victim. She’s no damsel in distress, either. In her own words: “Women who come to Bangkok to work here…We must adjust and adapt to the city. Even through our tears.”
“Karaoke Girl” is a poetic, artful approach to blending drama and documentary, and overall a surprisingly gorgeous tale of Sa Sittijun.
ORIGINAL TITLE: “Sao Karaoke”
DIRECTOR: Visra Vichit Vadakan
WRITER: Visra Vichit Vadakan
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