One for the Road
One for the Road วันสุดท้าย … ก่อนบายเธอ (One for the road One Sudthai Kon Bye Ther)
Thailand, 2021, 128’, Thai
Directed by: Baz Poonpiriya
Screenplay: Baz Poonpiriya, Nottapon Boonprakob, Puangsai Aksornsawang
Photography (color): Phaklao Jiraungkoonkun
Editing: Chonlasit Upanigkit
Music: Vichaya Vatanasapt
Production Design: Patchara Lertkai
Producer: Wong Kar Wai
Executive Producer: Chan Ye Cheng
Cast: Tor Thanapob, Ice Natara, Ploi Horwang, Noon Siraphun, Violette Wautier, Aokbab Chutimon
Date of First Release in Territory: February 10th, 2022
The only Thai winner of Far East Film Festival’s Audience Award, with Countdown (2012), director Baz Poonpiriya returns to Udine with his most personal and mature work, One for the Road, in which he has collaborated with the king of global auteurs Wong Kar-Wai. At its premiere at the Sundance International Film Festival, One for the Road became the first Thai film to win the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award. With only three features under his belt (Countdown, 2013; Bad Genius, 2017; One for the Road, 2021), Nattawut is now one of the hottest and most in-demand Thai directors on the international scene.
One for the Road is a road movie involving two best friends. New York expat Boss (Tor Thanapob) unexpectedly receives a phone call from long-time companion Aood (Ice Natara), asking him to return from New York to Bangkok, to help him fulfil his last wish. In the last stage of life, Aood wants Boss to accompany him on his journey to meet and return gifts to his exes. These encounters, however, are not at all welcomed by those women. Significantly, though, the most important gift is the one Aood wants to return to Boss, which might affect their relationship forever.
The film manifests Poonpiriya’s maturity in depicting the life-in-crisis of protagonists whose lives are beset by chaos or the unexpected. Normally, his protagonists are bad boys and girls trying to find solutions for their mistakes – something opposite to the common “feel-good” label that is often attached to his former producer GDH’s brand name. While his first two features revolve around sudden crises involving the lead characters – three teenagers confronting a lunatic stranger on New Year’s Eve in Countdown, and two high-school brainiacs being hired to cheat in the exam-taking business in Bad Genius – One for the Road follows two men who try to revisit their pasts and then resume their new lives. Whereas the first two features are told with fast and tight cinematic pacing, creating tension in the films, One for the Road adopts a slow, memorial style, using a lot of songs and references to silent film aesthetics. Like the films of Wong Kar Wai, One for the Road is reminiscent of the past in its setting of mood and tone. But while Wong is keen on revisiting the 1960s, Poonpiriya’s setting is Thai towns in the 1990s.
One of Poonpiriya’s telling details is signifying the nature and relationship of each character through their taste in alcohol. Alongside the double meaning of the title One for the Road, the three female characters are reflected in the flavours of cocktails invented specially for the film, with names such as “Alice’s Dance” and “Noona’s Tears.” Most importantly, this male-led story follows the lives of two middle-class Thai men of the kind we might meet everyday, but whose stories are less often told in contemporary Thai cinema – ordinary men who experience love, jealousy, envy and dishonesty. Poonpiriya smartly weaves several binary forms of human relationships into a paradox of happiness and suffering at the same time. Your best friend might in fact turn out to be your longtime enemy. An encounter with someone from your past might heal you, but the feeling might not be shared by the other person. Everyone has his own ways to get over his pain. Some people want an encounter, while others might prefer to keep their distance.
Baz Poonpiriya worked in the television advertising industry. He moved to New York to study graphic design, and returned to Thailand in 2011. One year later, he directed his first feature film, the horror thriller Countdown. His second feature, Bad Genius, shot in 2017, proved to be a box office hit across Asia, including China. In addition to One for the Road, Poonpiriya has several international projects in preparation, including the English-language horror thriller The Innkeeper, and a high-profile series for Netflix Global about the junior football team and their coach who became stranded in a flooding cave in Chiang Rai in 2018.
2013 – Countdown
2017 – Bad Genius
2021 – One for the Road