Contemporary World Cinema | 2016 | 105 minutes
Stranger Says: A neophyte filmmaker interviews an older woman about a legendary Thai student uprising, which then somehow segues into digressions on the nature of performance, a brief how-to about tobacco harvesting, and lots of cool shots of mushrooms. It makes more sense when you’re watching it. Honest. There’s a lot to unpack, certainly, but writer/director Anocha Suwichakornpong’s WTF tone poem of a film casts a bewitching spell, even/especially as it periodically reinvents itself. Intriguing and severely beautiful throughout, even during those moments when it seems like logic has taken a flyer. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Says:By the Time It Gets Dark has little interest in straightforwardness, but that’s what makes it so intriguing. In Anocha Suwichakornpong’s second feature-length film, characters live a life in one scene and a completely different one in the next. The film revolves around a 1976 event in which students at Thamassat University in Bangkok were brutally suppressed while protesting a military leader’s return. In the most direct scenes, we encounter a former student protester who shares her reflections with a young filmmaker. At its most abstract, the film shows extended cuts of nature and recreates earlier scenes with different actors. The film’s ambiguity hints at the unfeasibility of fully grasping the essence of a historical event without being there. While little is definitive in By the Time It Gets Dark, one thing absolutely is: This film is a beautiful one. The non-linear story is told poetically, through both captivating camerawork and emotional dialogue. Even when it’s uncertain what By the Time It Gets Dark is trying to communicate, it’s evident that it’s doing so in an exquisitely unconventional way.
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