A Brief Commentary on ‘Blissfully Yours’ (2002)
An extremely distinguished style is always attributed to the works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, known for his Tropical Malady and upcoming Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,. The filmmaker is always being attacked for a lack of meaning in his films. On the contrary, I’d like to believe that his level of craft opens itself up for a greater type of not only enjoyment, but also understanding. His camera movements are always rather stationary, his characters always subtle with unique mannerisms and his stories are always spiritual. Weerasethakul follows his own structure, introducing the audience to a symmetrical 2 Act structure where we see something begin and later end. His first halves are usually industrial, taking place in a city, while the later half is predominantly nature-based, being in the woods. Now, let’s talk about Blissfully Yours.
The film plays out as a poetic tale of memories and romantic moments from an altogether lost past in a time of Thai history that will never be the same again. We focus on Min, an illegal immigrant from Burma who is taken care of by his girlfriend Roong and aunt Orn. He has a terrible skin rash that won’t go away and is constantly being treated with home-made skin creams of vegetable ingredients, overall ignoring the doctor’s orders. We are given entry into all three of these people’s lives throughout the film, making it quite personal and revealing when certain scenes play out like a page from a diary or a memory in one’s mind. It is the personal emotions this piece releases that makes it quite special. Not following a conventional storyline, making it difficult to outline here. However, every character in the film puts on a sort of facade, or a persona, in the early half of the film later being revealed in the woods. This natural setting seems to be a type of truth, somewhere that falsity is torn to its core, making the unknown known. Orn, who wants to try for another baby with her husband, after their first-born died, is left with little hope in light of his unwillingness. She later has intercourse with his coworker out in the forest but is interrupted when their motorcycle is stolen. In search for her lover, she finds Min and Roong also in the forest. Min, though being the primary character, does not have much of a personality in this film. He, however, is shaped by the people and the environment surrounding him. Sometimes he is too itchy, and must therefore take off all his clothes. He is constantly babied by these two women as an almost threesome like scene occurs when they rub the homemade cream all over his body. A symbolic gesture being the fact that his remedy is being served in a river, nature and water being referenced as nurturing elements.
Lastly, towards the end of the film we are presented with a beautifully long lasting shot of Roong laying down next to Min, half asleep. Her eyes gently close as she almost gives into submission. Her devotion to Min takes up all of her effort and time, and for some reason, she is looking for more out of life. Right before the film closes, she looks into the camera with wide opened eyes and springs into conscious awareness. Another treat the film presents us is glimpses of Min’s past. Throughout the work, poorly done drawings from his childhood superimpose the screen, telling seemingly true stories from his days; sometimes bitter and sometimes worth forgetting. I believe Blissfully Yours might be a bore for most audiences if looked at with a false perspective. One must not go into the movie for entertainment, but rather for something more substantial; the type of feeling one achieves when reading a novel. You don’t read novels merely for amusement, but to gain something a lot denser in quality than just entertainment. As I said before, this 2 Act structure might confuse many people, but the glory of Weerasethakul’s transitional skills as he leads us from city to forest in a captivating single take is one of the delights of this overall rewarding film.
Thank you for reading,
Omar Antonio Iturriaga