At the Horizon (ປາຍທາງ)
Celebrating 10 Years of Screening Southeast Asian Cinema 2004-2014
Laos (2011, 101 min)
Lao w/English subtitles
Director: Anysay Keola
Screenplay: Anysay Keola
Music: Volachit Intharaphithak
Cinematography: Thanavorakit Khounthawatphinyo, K.M. Lo Cast: Khounkham Sidthiyom, Khamhou Phanludeth, Vatsana Sayoudom, Thipphakesone Misaybua, Loungnam Samadmanyvong
Laos’ first ever crime-thriller, “At the Horizon” is a well-written and well-performed account of a mute mechanic who violently crosses paths with a rich college kid. Pushing the boundaries of censorship with an honest depiction of social division in this communist state while carefully avoiding overt political commentary, debuting scripter-helmer Anysay Keola has produced a solid genre piece that marks him as a talent worth watching.
An arresting opening segment finds Sin (Khounkham Sidthiyom), a young guy with a punk haircut, screaming for help while chained to a chair in a dingy building. Several minutes later, Sin meets his captor, Lud (Khamhou Phanludeth), a mute in his mid-30s.
How these two men from opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum have been drawn together is played out in a series of punchy flashbacks and flashbacks-within-flashbacks. The early emphasis is on Sin, a smarmy college student from a wealthy family who drives a flashy SUV, carries a handgun like it’s a toy, and cheats constantly on his beautiful girlfriend, Mouk (Thipphakesone Misaybua).
On the other side of town, Lud works diligently at his motorcycle repair shop and is a devoted husband to his wife (Vatsana Sayoudom), a vegetable seller, and loving father to their adorable young daughter (Loungnam Samadmanyvong).
With barely a handful of Laotian features having played beyond national borders in the past 35 years, “At the Horizon” reps a significant step in efforts to stimulate filmmaking activity in the landlocked state. Pic is the first feature effort by Lao New Wave Cinema Prods., a loose collective of local indie filmmakers whose aim to produce accessible entertainment for domestic and international audiences is off to a promising start. – Richard Kuipers, Variety
Note: Some violence. Please watch the trailer.
The CSEAS Film Series is hosted by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, in support of the course ASAN 491G Cinema of Southeast Asia. Partial funding to purchase the films comes from the U.S. Dept. of Education and generous contributions from our loyal film fans.
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