Review: 6IXTYNIN9 (1999)

Directed by:
Cast: , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

Certainly an interesting film to come from Thailand’s leading director Pen-ek Ratanaruang, however in saying that, a film like this is not uncommon for him. In fact, 6ixtynin9’s story is a precursor of things to come later in Pen-ek’s career, particular in terms of genre and story.

6ixtynin9 makes amusing use of genre; this film seems to sit somewhere between a dark comedy, a drama and a gangster flick. With influences coming from each genre, I find it praiseworthy that the director can pull them all together without the result becoming too cluttered. In fact, his experimentation with genre is one of the things that sets him apart.

6ixtynin9 unquestionably sets up a lot of situations that pop up in Pen-ek’s later films, take for example, the multitude of similarities between 6ixtynin9 and Last Life in the Universe: the disposal of dead bodies, the sense of solitude in the big city, and problems with articulation of feeling.

One thing that I love about this film is its perverse humor. Some of the situations that Tum gets herself into had me in fits of laughter. There is one particular moment in the film involving a neighbor maliciously planning to cook a spicy Thai salad for Tum, and the dish uses an ingredient that I best let you discover for yourself.

A facet that makes this and the director’s other films so unique and amusing are the ways that he alters characters that are usually clichéd. The gangsters here are downright loveable. They seem devoid of their usual traits in other films, i.e. serious, tough, and hard-boiled. Pen-ek shows that criminals can too be cute and loving.

The one bone I have to pick with 6ixtynin9 is that Tum’s actions seem illogical and she always seems to make the wrong choice, purely for the sake of landing her in some more plot-thickening drama. However annoying and frustrating Tum’s decisions may be, they are what pushes the narrative along, and without them the film wouldn’t be what it is.

7.5 spicy salads out of 10.
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