Soi Cowboy

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/06/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 116 mins

Intriguing, beautifully shot and impressively written drama that leaves you with a lot to think about, though arthouse avoiders may be put off by the somewhat glacial pacing.

What's it all about?
The second film by British director Thomas Clay, Soi Cowboy is a low-budget drama about an overweight Danish screenwriter, (Nicolas Bro as Toby) and his Thai girlfriend, Koi (Pimwalee Thampanyasan). Initially, it seems that pregnant Koi is only using Toby and resents his advances, but it eventually becomes clear that he's rescued her from a presumably much less pleasant life as a bar prostitute.

However, just as you think you know where the film's going, it abruptly switches its attentions to Koi's brother, Cha (Petch Mekoh), who's being pressured into killing his own brother (Natee Srimanta) by a local gangster. Finally, the film ends with a bizarrely fascinating coda that recalls David Lynch's Mulholland Drive and forces you to completely rethink the film.

The Good
If you didn't know that Soi Cowboy was directed by the same man who made The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael then you wouldn't guess it from the film's style or content, as the film contains none of the same sickening sexual violence or empty sensationalism. However, Clay can't resist a spot of shameless plugging and includes a scene in which Toby asks for a pirate DVD of, yes, The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael.

Bro and Thampanyasan are both excellent, conveying everything we need to know about their relationship through a series of tiny gestures. In this respect, the sparse script is utterly believable – these people have literally nothing to say to each other and yet their relationship is oddly involving.

The Bad
The film is superbly shot throughout and contains some oddly beautiful moments, such as Toby watching a gardener spray the apartment grounds. However, the frequently glacial pacing means that this is also the kind of film where you spend five minutes watching an old woman inch her way along a corridor with a Zimmer frame for no reason whatsoever.

Worth seeing?
Soi Cowboy is an impressively directed, weirdly fascinating little film that's worth seeking out.

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Soi Cowboy
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Content updated: 22/01/2020 05:45

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