By Jeff Walsh
Bangkok Love Story is a fun, highly stylized gay movie from Thailand that certainly swings for the fences. Everything about it plays for maximum effect. It's sort of a Brokeback Mountain set in the underbelly of Bangkok.
Cloud is an assassin hired to kill Stone, a police informant, but he doesn't pull the trigger. In a gunfight, the two escape handcuffed together and Stone nurses Cloud back together and falls in love with him. (The gay angle isn't really evident before that happens, but if there wasn't a gay angle I wouldn't be writing this, so you know it's coming anyway). Their relationship takes a turn when Stone gives Cloud a bath on a rooftop in downtown Bangkok, which turns into quite a charged, erotic scene on the rooftop.
But nothing about Bangkok Love Story is subtle. Cloud's mother has AIDS, and his younger brother Fog is HIV+, both from his stepfather. Cloud is married, but cannot deny his love for Cloud, who freaks out after their sexual encounter and cuts off contact.
There's a lot about Bangkok Love Story that's unrealistic plot-wise (perhaps everything), but it is so well put-together and over the top that it eventually wins you over. It goes for grand gestures and bloody shoot-outs throughout, and there is never a discussion about homosexuality, really. Stone is in love with Cloud, who never says he's not gay, just is uncomfortable with what is happening, but never denies it. He just tries to keep it out of his life.
The exact nature of why Cloud was supposed to kill Stone is never clear, which is because in the original script Stone was a police officer, a plotline to which the Royal Thai Police objected. The movie was eventually a commercial success in Thailand.
Even the alternate ending on the DVD shows the film tried to go out with an even bigger melodramatic ending, but in a rare moment of restraint, held back. I think it is better without the extra scene.
Bangkok Love Story isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. It's probably going to be a divisive movie, you'll either go along for the melodramatic ride or be able to point out every reason why it is unrealistic and could never happen. But it certainly doesn't try and compromise its vision to win a larger audience. Definitely worth a look.