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A Gift

Opening Date
09 Mar 2017
144 mins
Thai with English & Chinese subtitles
Comedy, Romance
Chayanop Boonprakob, Jira Maligool
Nine Naphat, Violette Wautier, Mew Nittha, Sunny Suwanmethanont, Ter Chantavit, Noona Neungthida
A GIFT is the next captivating offering from GDH (the producers who brought you I FINE..THANK YOU..LOVE YOU) honouring the King’s musical compositions by highlighting his songs within a cinematic symphony of romance, soul-searching drama and heart-warming humour. This film is dedicated to King Bhumibol Adulyadej as an end-of-year gift to all the people of Thailand. The film tells the story of 6 people who are trying to overcome challenges that life has thrown at them. ‘A Gift’ is unwrapped for your viewing pleasure using a three-degree of separation narrative, divided into three parts and filmed by three different directing teams. 
By Freddy  10 Mar 2017
A Gift’ is a funny and heartwarming crowd pleaser that is also a fitting tribute to King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
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Featuring multiple, separate storylines in one film is not a new concept, from the Christmas classic ‘Love Actually’ to our own local film ‘7 Letters’. What makes ‘A Gift’ unique is that it is a tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away last year. Its 144-minute duration includes three stories, each inspired by a different song composed by the king.

The themes of these three parts are distinct, too. ‘Love at Sundown’ is a boy-meets-girl story around a scholarship ceremony. ‘Still On My Mind’ centres around a girl taking care of her father who suffers from Alzheimer after her mother passed away. ‘New Year’s Wishes’ is about finance employees wishing to have a music room in their office. Between the romantic comedy ‘Love at Sundown’ or the serious melodrama ‘Still On My Mind’ and the loud and funny ‘New Year’s Wishes’, there is something for everyone.

Each of the film, made by different directors, is well-made. The plots are not the most original, but they are well-executed to incite the intended emotional reaction from the audience. Most of the jokes land and the melodramatic moments may make you shed a tear or two. Even the brief horror sequence in the third part is genuinely spooky. These are not the most ambitious projects you will see from Thai movies, but they deliver.

The characters are all well-intentioned, amiable characters who are easy to root for. The actors portray their roles well, too. The most memorable role is Chaiwat Jirawattanakarn who plays the Alzheimer-stricken Uncle Pom in the second part, ‘Still On My Mind.’ Nittha Jirayungyurn who plays his daughter, Fa, performs well opposite him, too. The second part truly has challenging parts which make Naphat Siangsomboon and Violette Wautier who plays Beam and Pang in the first part have the best chemistry of the various pairings. Chantavit Dhanasevi shines at the last part as Llong, a rock singer-turned-financial analyst. Unfortunately, most of the characters did not undergo much character development throughout.

Despite having three parts, the film plays seamlessly. You would notice that it is a different part as we move on to the different character and because the direction and style of each film look different. Nevertheless, some effort is definitely put into connecting the stories together. Fa is one of the organisers of the ceremony Beam and Pang were in. Llong works in the company Fa’s mother used to work at. There are many of such details that I appreciate.

The cinematography of each part is good. I am particularly fond of the first part which uses a lot of soft lights, warm colours, and bokeh. The second part is appropriately darker and often more static, which suits the plot. The third one does not impress as much as it plays like a straight comedy, but it does its job in emphasising the funny scenes, such as when all the staff rushes to hide their musical instruments from their disapproving boss.
The music is of course one of the highlights of the film. They are presented in different ways without being too forced. ‘Love At Sundown’ is a song performed by a choir in the ceremony. ‘Still On My Mind’ is Fa’s mother’s favourite song. ‘New Year’s Wishes’ is a song the staff performs to convince the board to give them a music room during the annual board meeting. They meanings of the song tie in quite well with the story while showcasing how the King’s compositions are versatile and can be interwoven into various parts of our lives.

Overall, ‘A Gift’ is a funny and heartwarming crowd pleaser that is also a fitting tribute to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It showcases that tribute films do not have to be in-your-face. The film is also testament that movies do not need jaw-dropping CGI or mind-blowing plot twists to be able to entertain the audience, as long as the stories and performances have heart.
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