This film was gripping and moving, even when I didn't understand some of the specific references to the experience of Rohingya refugees in Thailand. This is the strength of the film - it stands on its own as an evocation of multiple ways of being lost, multiple ways that people can be violent towards each other and what healing might look like. The cinematography was incredible tactile, while still being dreamy.
I don't know that I could communicate clearly even half of what's going on in this film, but I feel confident that I'm grasping what it's aiming for on a deeper, indescribable level, which is one of the hallmarks of some of my favorite pieces of art. The only thing I can add is that elements reminded me of the similarly enigmatic THE RED TURTLE: the exquisite humanism, the powerful and poetic depictions of nature...
I need more knowledge about Thailand to fully interpret and appreciate it. Dedicated to the Rohingya, an ethnic group that's apparently a marginalized minority. Its topics on borrowed identity and a friendship first given willingly but then withdrawn give me the impression of touching on shared guilt, or a protest against its lack thereof. Atmospheric and slow, interesting but gave me many doubts, couldn't enjoy it.
I’m giving this film 2.5 stars because of its outstanding soundtrack, several visually stunning sequences of nature, and surrealistic imagery created with fairy lights. The screenplay, on the other hand, is disastrous. The film is forgettable, long, the character development is nonexistent, the film language is uninteresting, cliched and will seem predictable to anyone who has seen at least a couple of Thai films.
Chyba jestem zbyt leniwy by rozszyfrowywać zarówno końcówkę, jak i całą symbolikę, niemniej mam nadzieje że to dokądś prowadzi, a mi zwykłemu śmiertelnikowi pozostaje cieszyć egzotyką na ekranie. Pięknem natury, grą świateł i całym kadrowaniem wraz z zamysłem operatorskim (sic!).
The mythical nature of Manta Ray is sustained, rather than by images and symbols, by sounds and lights. Occasionally, it is wearisome, since much of the movie's appeal is to the surface (our senses) rather than to the depths where meanings lay. The elements of myth (to tell reality) are dispersed within the elements of illusion (to alter reality). Aroonpheng seems aware of both necessities, which is rare.
While being a promising debut mainly in terms of the elegance of the imagery and the poetic tones that largely resonate from what is a subtle texture, its reticence risks being interpreted as a tactic that 'plays safe' by the conventions of contemporary art-house film: ambience, 'epoche' on dramatization, non-verbal performativity, 'correct' images emptied of semantics, hybridity. These 'work' here but do not uplift.
Captivating photography enhances this tale of loss, loneliness and displacement. We see both ends of the spectrum of human behaviour, from kindness and fellow-feeling to murderous brutality. The use of coloured lights gives it a Magic Realism twist, with an unsettling message about the links between beauty and danger. A very impressive directorial debut.
3.5 Feels visually and aurally symphonic, as though secret harmonies are tying together disparate worlds and peoples. Loved the minimal dialogue, as it forces the audience to exist in a similar state to Thongchai and his saviour. Beautiful cinematography and calming shots of the men simply existing together. Loved the symbolism of the bejeweled forest. Echoes of "Vertigo" in the male doubling.
Throughout this film I swayed from loving it to loathing it. It was visually beautiful - extremely beautiful. The first hour had me fully engrossed and I found the relationship between the refugee and the young thai fisherman so warming and authentic. But when that went, I felt the film lost so much energy and the narrative/performances became slightly too obscure for me. Almost a 4 but still worth a watch for sure.
It's always December 25th in Thailand. Christmas lights everywhere, even in the forest. It's a great idea for a movie. I paused it several times because I lost track of what was happening. I kept thinking of what I'd put in the American version that I'm directing in my head. There were many moments where I thought the movie could have ended, but it just kept going. My version would be shorter, and end in Paris.
A visually stunning film that is the directorial debut of Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, Manta Ray treads the line of fantasy and reality in a hypnotic mixture of a refugee's life after being saved by a fisherman from a small village in Thailand. Through a mix of real and imagined elements this story, despite a slow introduction, ends up captivating the viewer by the end on a mesmerizing audiovisual journey of the senses.