New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘Sad Beauty’

New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘Sad Beauty’

Its very title announces that Sad Beauty will not be a cheerful affair. Sadness flows throughout this Thai film like a river dragging a once precious leaf into a dark cave. While there are moments of beauty, they consistently get overshadowed by the frustration one feels with the story’s overall execution.

Actress-director Bongkod Bencharongkul’s latest work is a somber and dark tale of female friendship. Yo (Florence Faivre) is a washed-up actress and model who numerous outbursts at that press have damaged her image. The only one the statuesque star seems to listen to is her good friend Pim (Pakkawadee Pengsuwan). The inseparable pair are at their most euphoric when on the dance floor at their favourite nightclubs, however, their word is thrown for a loop after a violent encounter with Pim’s volatile stepfather.

Much of Sad Beauty’s plot focuses on how the two young women deal with the predicament that they find themselves in. Each new decision takes them further down a path that neither of them are ready for. While the outline for an engaging story is there, the film never gives audiences a good reason why they should invest in the characters’ plights.

Bencharongkul packs the film with so much melodrama that neither the story or characters have a chance to breath and grow. Twenty minutes into the film we have learned that Yo has drug problem, Pim is diagnosed with eye cancer, and Pim’s alcoholic stepdad, who we only see in one key and uncomfortable scene, is prone to beating women. Furthermore, Yo is so self-centred that her actions come across as annoying rather than gut-wrenching by the end.

Though Bencharongkul displays a keen visual eye, Sad Beauty gets lost in its own darkness.

  • Release Date: 3/13/2018
This post was written by
Courtney is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic and the founder of Cinema Axis. He can frequently be heard discussing film as co-host of Frameline on Radio Regent. Courtney has contributed to several publications including Leornard Maltin, That Shelf, Black Girl Nerds, and Comix Asylum Magazine. He also celebrates diversity in cinema as co-hosts of the Changing Reels podcast and is a member of the Online Film Critics Society.
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