Blissfully Yours Review

If you’ve yet to see Blissfully Yours, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s second feature from 2002, then now may prove to be just the right time. It works as a perfect summer movie, preferably late night, yet not in the intense manner of Spike Lee’s heated ‘joints’ or one of Sidney Lumet’s sweaty urban thrillers. Rather it exists as a kind of 21st century Partie de campagne - and that’s not a comparison which I’d ordinarily throw about too readily. Blissfully Yours is more of a mood than a movie (the title, incidentally, is spot on), its narrative negligible and one best fashioned in inverted commas. It could be classed, in part, as a “road movie” and one which focuses on a “love triangle”, yet this doesn’t feel quite right. Certainly, Apichatpong concentrates on three characters – two young lovers and a jealous older woman – and maps out their often ambiguous relationships over the course of a single day, but this isn’t all that interests or intrigues him. More important are the feelings which his film evokes, the manner in which he connects with the rural Thai landscapes, and the quiet, languorous tones and textures inherent in each.

“So I promised to escape with her…” is the film’s key line; Blissfully Yours provides escapism for both its characters and its audience. Apichatpong opens his picture in a firmly naturalistic style – long takes, rooted cameras, urban settings, brusque matter-of-fact dialogue – but soon gives way to a more sensual approach. Whilst the observational manner remains, colours become more apparent, the camera freer in its movements and we begin to take notice of the smaller moments; as noted in his introduction which accompanies the film on this disc, Apichatpong takes notice of the way in which his characters eat or sleep or walk. Indeed, Blissfully Yours begins to take on a genuinely striking intimacy; at times the audience risks being almost unnerved were it not for the manner in which the film floats by at its own easy, relaxed pace. Moreover, such intimacy doesn’t simply come down to those scenes of a frank sexual nature, but also from the warm, delicate and ultimately unassuming performances which Apichatpong has coaxed from his inexperienced leads. When they kiss or lie side-by-side or exchange a look in a car we feel it.

It’s these moments which Blissfully Yours lives for and survives by. On occasion the screen is peppered with scrawls of text and doodles in the manner of a naïve Godard, yet Godard never quite managed to turn in something quite so warm, so genuine, so human. Flashes of “real” drama do occasionally threaten to sneak through – Apichatpong always feels as though he’s open to endless possibilities – but nothing can quite disrupt its sensuous, enigmatic moods. And in this respect the film also manages a perfect fit amongst the Second Run catalogue so far. Despite it being their only 21st century entry so far Blissfully Yours would make for a perfect double bill partner with the freewheeling, observational likes of Miloš Forman’s Audition/Talent Competition or, even better, Ivan Passer’s equally blissful Intimate Lighting.

The Disc

Blissfully Yours arrives in the UK in uncut form as a Region 0 PAL release. The original 1.66:1 aspect ratio is preserved and anamorphically enhanced, the English subtitles are optional, whilst the print itself has been approved by Apichatpong himself. As such many will see this as the definitive release so far – and indeed it is – though be warned that things aren’t quite perfect. The haziness of the image is perhaps a little too pronounced at times (we really should expect a greater sharpness from such a new picture), whilst the print comes with the occasional, and admittedly minimal, sign of damage. That said, neither is by any means distracting or has a detrimental effect on the film itself.

The soundtrack, on the other hand, is superb and comes without faults, however small. The original combination of Thai and Burmese (as said, with optional English subs) is present in Dolby Surround and perfectly conveys the atmospheres which Apichatpong has brewed.

As for extras, Blissfully Yours is somewhat bare, although the two inclusions certainly deserve their place. The nine-minute introduction by Apichatpong finds the director in chatty mood and offering up plenty of juicy morsels about his film’s production. Elsewhere, we’re also provided with a 12-page booklet complete with essay by esteemed critic Tony Rayns and various other production notes.

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Last updated: 28/06/2018 15:05:15

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